Dementia: new viewpoints, new solutions
By seeing things from other people’s perspectives, Professor Charlotte Clarke is looking into finding ways to enhance the quality of life for people living with dementia.
Now Head of the School of Health in Social Science at the University, Charlotte’s undergraduate studies in Nursing, at what is now Glasgow Caledonian University, fostered her interest in research.
This paved the way for a PhD at Northumbria University under an early and enlightening scheme of clinical-academic research development. A part-time PhD student, she also worked in a clinical role (and completed an MSc and PGCE).
Researching living with dementia
Charlotte’s clinical and research work has always centred on older people and people living with dementia, and she was honoured to receive the first Higher Doctorate awarded by Northumbria University for research in risk management and dementia.
Over the years, patients, colleagues, and friends have given her unique insights. Her talk at this year’s Alumni Weekend, The Spice of Life: Understanding Living with Dementia, drew upon varied perspectives in trying to shed light on how people seek to maintain identity, purpose and meaning in their lives.
I am driven, in particular, to see research (and my role as an academic) as a vehicle through which we amplify what I call silent silenced voices – those who find it hard to speak up for themselves or for who are rendered marginalised in society.
Edinburgh’s innovation approach
Having joined the University of Edinburgh in her current role in 2011, Charlotte finds Health in Social Science an exciting school.
I love the creativity which staff bring to their work – sometimes literally through storytelling and film-making about complex health related issues; sometimes in crafting innovative curricula or research designs.
In her parallel role as Professor of Health in Social Science, Charlotte is continuing a research programme on risk and dementia and supervising PhD students. When her role as Head of School passes to someone else, and she intends to intensify her work with students, alongside securing research awards to further investigations into this aspect of day-to-day life for people living with dementia, and practitioners.
Taking on new viewpoints
Charlotte strongly believes in the importance of working with people living with dementia and making sure that what we recommend to policy and services is truly based on having given them the chance to have a voice.
I want people to know that health (and especially dementia) are issues that we are all concerned about and we all can do something to enhance someone’s quality of life if we open our eyes and see things from their point of view.