Professor Heather Wilkinson

Director of Edinburgh Centre for Research on the Experience of Dementia (ECRED); Deputy Director of the Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC) Academy


MSc in Counselling and Psychotherapy, Newman University, 2021 (Distinction)

Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling, Northern Guild, Newcastle, 2020 (Distinction)

Post Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Studies (Merit), Northern Guild, Newcastle, 2019.

Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy, University of Edinburgh, 2017 (Distinction)

PhD, Lancaster University, 1997. ESRC studentship 1994-1997

Post Graduate Certificate in Education (Secondary), Manchester Metropolitan University, 1991

BA (Hons) Geography, Northumbria University, 1984 – 1987

Research summary

My research focuses on working with people living with dementia to develop better understandings of methodological and personal perspectives of people with dementia, and for people with learning disabilities and dementia. This aim has underpinned my research career since 1996, and particularly from when I joined the University of Edinburgh in 2000. Taking an interdisciplinary perspective, I work across the fields of gerontology, health, nursing, sociology, practice development and social policy with strong knowledge exchange and practice development components. My roles in the ACRC have allowed me to extend my interdisciplinarity across wider fields through collaborations with engineering, AI, architecture, design and informatics.  Much of my work has been methodologically innovative to ensure that the research participants/collaborators with dementia and/or learning disability (previously totally excluded) are included in research and dissemination. Several of the projects have had a direct influence on policy and practice (see for example, the work for the Scottish Government on the Adults with Incapacity legislation; night time care project; toilets and design for accessibility; the ECREDibles, involving people living with dementia in research). I have a strong commitment to ensuring effective knowledge exchange and public engagement including at an international level with my partnerships in India, Europe, Australia and Taiwan. My work has contributed to service development in Scotland and I was co-founder of the Scottish Dementia Working Group. More recently I have qualified as a psychotherapist and I work in private practice in the north-east of England.   

Current research interests

Coproduction and participatory research Social relationships and friendships, peer support, emotions and counselling Living and dying with dementia Dementia and design Marginalised groups with dementia (including people with intellectual disabilities) Working with people who have dementia to understand their experience and possible approaches to impact policy, practice and society

Affiliated research centres

View all 56 publications on Research Explorer