Being often so busy you sometimes don’t have enough time to think, it’s good to have the mental space over the Christmas break to reflect on what’s been going on in the past year – and, what you hope to tackle in the new year! So, amidst Lebkuchen and Printen (German Christmas delicacies), I thought back about 2019.
We academics are mainly measured in how many papers (in preferably high impact journals) we publish and how much external research funding we bring in. And yes, I’m glad to say I did publish several papers. Probably the most interesting one looked at how supervising a loved one with dementia in performing everyday activities, such as making a hot drink, is linked to improved levels of independence than doing everything FOR them. What made this analysis even more interesting was that, big thanks to ERASMUS+, I went to visit Maastricht University the year before and strengthened my network with colleagues there at the Living Lab.
Now, fast-forward a year back to 2019, and thanks to the Alzheimer’s Society, I have visited my Dutch collaborators several times again to set up a new study across both England and the Netherlands to look at health inequalities in dementia care. Amongst many things I can say I am incredibly happy to be working and leading on, this is one of my main highlights of 2019 probably! Only by exchanging knowledge with other countries and their care systems, we can identify the best ways to support people living with dementia and their family carers to live well. In only a few only a few months’ time, we will have the findings ready, so do watch this space!
Getting research funding is vital to support these knowledge exchanges and develop novel studies. I was very lucky to be awarded funding from various sources last year, including the Liverpool CCG, Wigan Council, the University of Liverpool, and the Wellcome Trust to explore health inequalities in dementia care even more.
But it’s not all about the old-school measures of academic performance – last year, with the support of my institute and the NIHR ARC NWC, I set up something so that not only us academics know what’s going on in the field, but everyone and anyone can find out more about dementia and ageing research. So, 2019 welcomed the Liverpool Dementia & Ageing Research Forum! What would be the purpose of doing research if we can’t share and talk about our work with those affected by the conditions we research? And in a couple of weeks we will see the next free public seminar, this time about music, movies, and dementia.
So what about 2020? Having received funding for a number of small projects, a big task for the first half of 2020 will be hitting recruitment targets. But among those, I am mostly excited about building up my international networks with Colombia, Chile, and Australia, and looking at inequalities not only through a UK lens, but looking at it from various perspectives and angles. There is no point in doing research in a silo, only by going out there and immersing yourself in a new setting/country/lab you can truly do novel research. Excited to see what else 2020 holds in store for dementia research!
Dr Clarissa Giebel is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Liverpool and NIHR CLAHRC North West Coast. She has been working in dementia care research for over 7 years focusing her research on on helping people with dementia live at home independently for longer.
You can follow Clarissa on Twitter Follow @ClarissaGiebel