Rachel Clarke on Beginning my PhD…

I have been lucky enough to secure a studentship which started at The University of Sussex in September. It is linked to my previous role on the IDEAL study – Improving the Experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Lifeliving well with dementia (http://www.idealproject.org.uk/). The IDEAL study is a five year study which began in early 2014 and is recruiting a sample of 1500 participants with dementia and 1000 caregivers to explore what it means to live well with dementia from the perspective both of thes person with dementia and the carer, collecting data over three time points. The IDEAL study is analysing quality of life, well being and satisfaction with life through a series of quantitative assessments. My PhD will be using a mixed methods data analyses to explore the work-life balance of employed caregivers from the IDEAL study. In addition to analysing data that has already been collected, fieldwork will principally consist of a single interview with a sample of around 50 participants, and will explore the challenging and positive aspects of combining caring with employment, how employers are facilitating this process and what employment legislation can do to improve this process. This study will enhance the dataset by adding a new component which assesses the effect of work life balance outcomes on carers’ cognitive function, including memory and attention. Findings from this study will also inform policy makers who develop programs to assist caregivers who are juggling multiple roles.

I am very excited to be part of an absolutely fascinating, topical area of research and a major project generally which will contribute to dementia research for a long time. I’m also looking forward to the process of completing the PhD which will give me the chance to stretch my skill-set by integrating psychological, cognitive and sociological perspectives, and the opportunities this PhD will present following completion. And so it begins…..

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