From not knowing many people to creating a buzzing network
When I first started at the University of Liverpool (now a couple of years ago), there was little networking and linking up amongst us dementia and ageing researchers. With time, I met several researchers, clinical academics, clinicians, and support providers, all of which are working in the field. But, many of them didn’t even know of one another!
So, fast forward to 2019, and with a lot of planning and support from my institute, the NIHR ARC NWC, and linking in with our local Clinical Research Network, the Liverpool Dementia and Ageing Research Forum came to life!
What does the Forum do? In September the Forum kicked off welcoming 30+ academics, clinicians, and service providers, where a mix of people, including the Liverpool House of Memories, gave a snapshot of their work in the field. What was powerful to hear was Roy. Roy lives with Lewy Body dementia for several years now and is an active public adviser on some of our dementia projects at the ARC. It was moving to hear his experiences of living with dementia, which you can also do by taking a look at some of the short videos we produced. Whilst the room was filled with clinicians who work with people living with dementia on a day-to-day basis, it serves as an important reminder to really listen to what those living with the condition experience, outside of clinical assessments and research interviews.
This little conference workshop is now followed a bi-monthly seminar series, open to each and everyone who wants to learn a bit more about dementia and ageing, and meet fellow peers. For the inaugural public seminar, Dr Warren Donnellan talked about family caring in dementia, and 25+ people attended. The next seminar in January will see Prof Lisa Shaw talk about music, movies, and memory, and her work in England and Brazil.
From not knowing many people in the field, to now having established a growing and buzzing network of peers, not just in academia, but also linking in with Charities and support providers, is making this network much more viable, by bringing together people with the same interests, but from different fields.
Setting up any network of a common interest can be difficult. You need the buy in from your organisation, the general appetite from people out there to attend meetings and be an active part of the network, and a little bit of time to run it all! But once it’s set up, more and more people come together and share the news about the network with others. So, if you ever think there aren’t many people around you interested in the same field of work, look around, do some digging, make some noise, and you’ll surely find yourself surrounded by peers!
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