James’s NIHR funded PhD was on the topic of “Improving mealtime care for people with dementia: A training intervention for care homes”.
James says, “Through my clinical work I became interested in the way that people with dementia experience mealtimes.
“From spending time in care homes, I learned that care home staff were doing a very important and challenging job.
“I started to wonder if there was more that we could do to support them – for instance, by providing better training. So, I chose research as a way to address this.”
He says, “There are lots of ways to get involved in research at Newcastle Hospitals”.
For James, his starting point was to do a NIHR Internship, which gave him a flavour of what research is all about. From there he managed to obtain Research Capability Funding (RCF) from the Newcastle Hospitals’ Trust to prepare an application for NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship (CDRF) PhD funding, which thankfully was successful.
He says, “mealtimes are important for health and quality of life. People with dementia are particularly at risk of eating and drinking difficulties. Increasingly, people with dementia live in care homes, where they are dependent on staff for mealtime care. The aim of this project was to produce a staff training intervention to improve mealtime care for people with dementia.”
Through his research he aimed to answer three related questions:
- What is good practice in mealtime care for people with dementia living in care homes?
- What are the factors influencing mealtime care for people with dementia living in care homes?
- What is the best way to support care home staff to care for people with dementia at mealtimes?
During the PhD James was well supported by Head of Services for Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) Jane Appleton and all his SALT colleagues. He was also glad of the support and encouragement from Dr Linda Tinkler and colleagues in the NMAHP Research Team, where he has now taken up the role of Clinical Educator.
He received excellent supervision from Dr Clare Abley, Professor Joanne Patterson and Professor Catherine Exley.
James has now commenced on a new fellowship funded by Alzheimer’s Society and NIHR Applied Research Collaborative (ARC) North East and North Cumbria (NENC) to continue his work on dementia by testing out the training in local care homes.
He carries out his fellowship 2 days per week alongside his substantive role within the NMAHP Research Team at Newcastle Hospitals as a Clinical Educator where he oversees, manages and develops the 4Ps Researcher Development Programme, helping to equip colleagues to engage in research.