Full time PhD student
Research title: The contribution of Medicines Optimisation to maintaining independent living for older people living with dementia in their own home, and the co-development of a theoretically- underpinned, complex intervention to improve medicines optimisation.
Supervisors: Prof Alison Blenkinsopp (Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Bradford), Dr Sue Jones (Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Bradford), Dr Sarah Smith (Faculty of Health Studies, University of Bradford).
Although well-travelled, I have lived in the area local to Bradford most of my life. I graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Politics and International Relations in 2006 and have experience in a range of work roles, including that of Parliamentary Research Assistant to a Member of Parliament at Westminster. However, stemming from my interest in medicines and pharmaceutical care, in 2009, I decided to embark on a career in Pharmacy as a mature student.
Master of Pharmacy
After completing my Masters in Pharmacy (MPharm) with distinction at the University of Bradford and successful pre-registration experience in both hospital and community settings, I registered as a pharmacist with the GPhC in 2014. In order to understand better the broad and diverse range of pharmaceutical services available to patients in primary care, I opted to become a locum community pharmacist covering various areas across the Yorkshire and Humber region. As a result of various consultations with carers and members of the healthcare team, this initial experience revealed some of the issues surrounding medicines management for those people living with dementia, and the wider implications that a complex care plan may have upon their carers and family members.
Clinical Knowledge Summaries
Having thoroughly enjoyed academia, together with my drive and determination to further contribute to my chosen profession in a wider context, I subsequently secured a role as a pharmacist clinical author with Clarity Informatics Ltd, contributing to evidence-based guidelines for primary care practitioners including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. This work involved the development of Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS) on behalf of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), most notably assisting in the scoping, internal reviewing and prescribing information of the CKS Dementia topic.
Unique PhD opportunity
In my previous work role, I briefly contemplated the idea of gaining more experience through working in a GP surgery, as the role of pharmacists is constantly evolving in the provision of modern healthcare services. However, when this unique PhD opportunity arose within the Doctoral Training Centre, I embraced it whole-heartedly, as the potential to improve the lives of those living with dementia through high quality, meaningful research was very attractive. My grandfather and a more distant relative were both recently diagnosed with vascular dementia, and I have witnessed first-hand the emotional upheaval that people living with dementia and their family members often endure in adapting to this life-changing condition. As a pharmacist, I am committed to supporting people (including patients, carers, families, and other healthcare professionals) in the safe and effective use of medicines to ensure people benefit from their treatment, but also experience an improved quality of life. The guiding principles of ‘patient-centred care’ are at the heart of medicines optimisation and can be developed to support improved outcomes for people living with dementia in their own home, such as improved cognitive and physical functioning, reduced medication errors, and avoidance of unnecessary transitions in care.
My PhD is funded by the Alzheimer’s Society and facilitated through the School of Dementia Studies and the School of Pharmacy at Bradford, who are internationally recognised for research in this field. This cross-faculty collaboration offers the perfect combination for me, providing the opportunity to work within a multi-disciplinary team of like-minded researchers. As an experienced Community Pharmacist with a special interest in dementia care, my PhD research seeks to explore the contribution of medicines optimisation to maintaining independence for older people living with dementia in their own home. Managing medicines in home settings poses particular challenges especially for people living with dementia and/or their carers, who often do not receive adequate information about how to manage medications. Through assessing current processes and home-based services available to people living with dementia, this doctorate aims to co-develop an intervention in collaboration with other members of the DTC, such as the Carers Reference Panel, to improve medicine use for older people with dementia in this setting. A feasibility study of the intervention may provide useful information for a future, large-scale trial of the intervention, with the potential to improve medicines use locally and nationally for people with dementia living in their own home.