Dr E Joanna Alexjuk (PhD)

Thesis title: The Journey from Dementia Diagnosis to Final Bereavement: an Exploration of the Fluctuating Perceptions of Self of Family Carers of People with Dementia

  • University of Edinburgh
  • British Society of Gerontology
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Contact details



Dept. of Counselling, Psychotherapy and Applied Social Science, Located in: Room 2.09, 24 Buccleuch Place, c/o School of Health in Social Science,
Doorway 6, Elsie Inglis Quad, Teviot Place, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9AG

Post code


  • As from August 2023 I am a full time member of staff, but please contact me via email in the first instance.


I am a Lecturer, Researcher and Writer of educational resource materials with over 25 years’ experience of working within the field of healthcare not only within academia, but also within the health, statutory, private and voluntary sectors.

I joined the University of Edinburgh (UoE)  in 2012 as a Research Fellow, I then in 2014 I became a Lecturer specialising in the teaching of courses relating to dementia, health management topics and disability at undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PGR) level within the Department of Counselling, Psychotherapy and Applied Social Science (CPASS), School of Health and Social Science (HiSS). I also supervise students undertaking (UG) and post graduate (PGR) dissertations within the department, as well as on-campus and online PhD students undertaking health-related topics of research. 

My foundational interest relates to dementia experience, policy and practice and as such I am a founding member of the Edinburgh Centre for Research on the Experience of Dementia (ECRED) and whilst undertaking my academic role my research has included the co-authorship of a number of qualitative research articles and report,  a book chapter as specialist commentator for Dementia UK, as well as presenting at international conferences. relating to healthcare and health management. My broader pedagogical and research interests encompass topics relating gerontology, dementia, disability, compassion and empathy in work and practice. 

I have also previously undertake independent consultancy training and project evaluation for UK based voluntary and public sector organisations such as Dementia UK, SEARCH Newcastle and Gateshead Local Authority, Prior to entering academia I worked for the Alzheimer’s Society (England) as a Project Manager and National Trainer for more than 11 years (1997 - 2008) and Chair and Committee member of Cruse Bereavement Care (Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside) (1997 - 2006)


  • Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (2020)
  • PhD - University of Edinburgh (2018)
  • MSc in Dementia Studies (distinction): University of Stirling: (2003 – 2007 part time) (Distinction)
  • BA Combined Arts (Hons) Politics and Psychology (2:1):  University of Sunderland (1993)
  • NVQ Level IV Volunteer Management:  Project North East (2007)
  • Training for Trainers’ Course:  Alzheimer’s Society / Dementia Care Matter (2004)
  • NVQ Level IV Business Management:  Morgan Burns Assoc. Ltd.  (1997)
  • NVQ Level III Bereavement Awareness and Counselling Skills: NCFE (1997)
  • NVQ Level III Information Technology:  Morgan Burns Assoc. Ltd. (1997)
  • RSA Counselling Skills in the Development of Learning: Gateshead College (1991)

Responsibilities & affiliations

Teaching roles within CPASS/HiSS at UoE:

MA (Hons) Health in Social Science

  • Depute Programme Director/Academic Cohort Lead
  • Course Organiser: Introduction to Disability Studies / Health Management and Management in Health 
  • Co-Course Organiser: Counselling and Psychology: Principles and Practice  


  • Lecturer for the UG Nursing programme

I have been nominated for six teaching awards: Personal Tutor and Teacher of the Year by the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA), and nominated by colleagues for three College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science (CAHSS) awards: the Prof Susan Manning award for Inspiring Mentor; Excellence in Leadership and Exceptional Team

Additional roles within HiSS/CPASS:

Co-ordinator of Adjustments (HiSS) 

Co-Chair of the Research Ethics and Integrity Committee (CPASS)

Learning and Teaching Committee (HiSS)

Athena Swan - Staff Carers Group (CPASS)

Roles outwith UoE:

  • External Examiner of the MSc Dementia Studies Programme (University of Stirling) (2023)
  • Co-ordinator of the British Society of Gerontology (BSG, Scotland) (2023). Formerly, Treasurer of BSG (Scotland) (2016 - 2023)
  • External Examiner and Progression and Awards Board Examiner for health-related undergraduate and postgraduate programmes/courses at the (University of West Scotland from 2014 - 2018)

Undergraduate teaching

  • Course organiser: Health Management and Management in Health (MA Health in Social Science Programme)
  • Course organiser: Introduction to Disability Studies (MA Health in Social Science Programme)
  • Co-course organiser: Counselling and Psychotherapy: Principles and Practice

Postgraduate teaching



Dissertation supervisor: MSc Counselling and Psychotherapy (16 students)

PhD supervisor: Health in Social Science (9 students)


Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation students, as well as PhD students.

Current PhD students supervised

  • PhD research (8 students)
  • Dissertation supervisor: MSc Counselling and Psychotherapy (16 students)
  • Dissertation supervisor: MScR Health Arts and Humanities (1 student)

Past PhD students supervised

  • MA Health in Social Science (Dissertation students 14)
  • MSc in Dementia Experience, Policy and Practice ( Dissertation students 8)

Research summary

Research Interests

  • Pedagogical approaches to compassion and empathy in work and life (2021 - 2022)
  • Pedagogical approaches to teaching about empathy in practice (2018)
  • Healthbridge Project - an evaluation of part of the National Dementia Strategy for England (2010 - 2012)


  • Principal Teaching Award - University of Edinburgh cross college award relating to empathy in practice for students within dementia studies / nursing / veterinary programmes (2018)
  • Small grant secured from the Department of Health to evaluate the "Remember Me Dementia Care" training pack, authored by myself (Northumbria University, 2007)
  • Northern Rock Foundation grant to cover all overhead costs for rolling programme of befriending services for people with dementia and their carers. (2004-2007)

Research activity

I have a wealth of experience in the dementia field, not only as a dementia care practitioner, but also as a course tutor on the MSc in Dementia Studies at the University of Stirling and more recently as a part time doctoral student.

My PhD research relates to exploring the emotive aspects of anticipatory grief, loss and bereavement experienced by carers of people with dementia throughout their 'journey' of care.

  • Research Associate: Give and Take: Information use and Self-Management in Dementia Care project at Northumbria University, part of NHS NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme. (May 2010 to Feb 2011)
  • National Trainer: Alzheimer's Society, England (2003-2009)
  • Committee member: North Tyneside Palliative Care Working Group. (2006-2008)
  • Project Coordinator: Alzheimer's Society, North Tyneside Branch, England. (1997-2006)
  • Branch Trustee (Voluntary capacity) - Cruse Bereavement Care, Tyneside. (1997-2006)

Current research interests

Pedagogical approaches to compassion and empathy in work and life Theoretical approaches to disability and health Grief and loss in dementia care

Past research interests

Online informal dementia adviser/friend and co-writer of person-centred dementia care information and training material.  Alzheimer's Association Iran (2007). Online informal dementia adviser and supporter of the Goan branch of the Alzheimer's and Related Disorders Society of India (2003 - to date). Informal adviser of mental health programmes relating to elders, women and children within the Indian administrative state of Kashmir.  Human Effort for Love and Peace Kashmir, India (2003 - to date)

Affiliated research centres

View all 5 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details

  • Dementia Policy and Practice: Alzheimer’s and Related Disorder Society of India, Kolkata, (2017)
  • International Carers Conference, (Gothenburg, 2017)
  • Teaching About Empathy in Practice. HEA Liverpool (July 2017)
  • PhD research (oral presentation): Linköping University, Norrköping, (September 2016)
  • PhD research (oral presentation) The 6th International Carers Conference, Gothenburg (September 2015)
  • Keynote Dementia Friendly Communities: Goa Medical College, Goa University, India (March 2015)
  • PhD research The British Society of Gerontology, Newcastle (July 2015)
  • Innovations in Online Reflexive Practice: Linking Theory with Technique within the Virtual Learning Environment (presentation): Online Learning Network, UoE  (July 2014)
  • Innovations in Online Reflexive Practice: Linking Theory with Technique within the Virtual Learning Environment  (oral and poster presentation): Higher Education Academy, Birmingham (June 2014)

Invited speaker

  • Keynote - University of Edinburgh Transnational online symposium – Nursing Leadership  (2023)
  • Keynote - University of Applied Social Science, Fachbereich Soziales und Gesundheit, Austria (May 2020)
  • Keynote - University of Ostrava, Czech. Republic (December 2019)
  • Keynote - Dementia Friendly Communities, Chang Gung University and Taiwanese Minister for Health, Taiwan (October 2014)


  • Seminar Co-Organiser and Chair: Students with Caring Responsibilities (online UoE, 2023)
  • Seminar Co-Organiser: Are we ready to integrate health and social care? Glasgow Caledonian University (British Society of Gerontology, Scotland, 2017)
  • Seminar Co-Organiser: Living with dementia: evidence from research and implications for policy. Edinburgh University (British Society of Gerontology, Scotland, 2016)
  • Seminar Co-Organiser: Marginalisation in later life University of West of Scotland (British Society of Gerontology, Scotland, 2014)

Papers delivered

  • Compassion and Empathy in Work and Life Project: UoE Learning and Teaching conference (2023)
  • Alzheimer's and Related Disorders Society (Kolkata, 2018) - Dementia, a Scottish perspective
  • Dementia  Network (Sweden, 2018) - The journey from dementia diagnosis to final bereavement: The fluctuating perceptions of self of family carers of people living with dementia
  • International Carers Conference (Gothenburg, 2017)
  • Goa Medical College (India, 2015) The journey from dementia diagnosis to final bereavment of family carers of people living with dementia