We hope you are enjoying our blog series which is celebrating our next generation of researchers, featuring those that were in the SDRC Annual Report 2019/20.

 Our final blog is by Martha Pollard, from the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Resource Centre. Read about Martha’s PhD research below.

 I am currently undertaking a PhD studentship funded by the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre at University of Edinburgh.

I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and an MSc and PhD in Public Health Sciences, focussing on the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease.  From there I moved to cognitive ageing research in the Lothian Birth Cohort studies and lectured in psychology from 2001-2009. During this time, many unpaid carers of people living with dementia told me of their difficulties of finding the care they needed.

Stepping out of academia, I took up agency care work.  I then moved into emotional and social support roles in the charity sector, where I developed friendship groups and creative engagement with people living with dementia and carers in programmes at the Eric Liddell Centre.  I also volunteered as a befriender with Alzheimer Scotland.

Looking to deepen my emotional support work, I started training as a counsellor in 2016 and am on course to qualify this year. My current PhD studentship fits ideally with my urge to contribute to understanding and insights into living with dementia.  My current research is in conjunction with the Edinburgh Centre for Research on the Experience of Dementia (ECRED), also at the University of Edinburgh. I am exploring dementia and freedom in psychiatric settings (specialist dementia units), from four perspectives: people living with dementia; unpaid carers/family members; medical/social care staff, and chaplains.

My aim is for closer integration of my community-based, counselling and academic work, all focussed on ways to maximise freedom and flourishing for people living with dementia and carers: and for everyone.

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If you are an Early Career Researcher or student that would like to write a guest blog for the SDRC, get in touch at sdrc@alzscot.org