I would like to thank VOICE for helping me to prepare my PhD proposal, on the topic of improving mealtimes for people with dementia in care homes. I began work developing this proposal a couple of years ago, based on my clinical experience of working as a Speech and Language Therapist.
I was aware that some people with dementia have problems with eating and drinking, and need more care and support at mealtimes. I was also aware that mealtimes are important for lots of reasons; not just to provide nutrition and hydration, but also as social occasions that have an effect on people’s quality of life. I felt strongly that care home staff should have the skills and support they need to provide good care at mealtimes. So I started to develop a project to address this.
For me, it was very important to get comments and feedback on my ideas from an early stage. I came to the VOICE Research Support Group monthly meeting, and gave a presentation. The group members made me feel very welcome, and it was a really enjoyable experience. They asked lots of helpful questions, and gave some valuable suggestions about how I could improve my research plan. This prompted me to think more carefully about issues like: who to involve in the research; how to measure whether it has been successful; and how to communicate the research findings. My PhD application really benefited from this process.
I am very pleased to say that the application was successful! I was awarded a Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). I started work on the PhD in June this year, and recently have been in touch with VOICE again, for help with arranging a project advisory group. I am so grateful to the good people at VOICE for playing a part in helping me get to this point. It is a fantastic resource for the research community.
Speech and Language Therapist
NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow