Dr Sarah J. Rhynas

Lecturer, UG Programme Director


Sarah graduated in nursing from Edinburgh University in 1998 and worked as a staff nurse in Medicine for the Elderly and Acute Medicine at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. She also enjoyed a variety of voluntary sector experiences, helping to manage and run services supporting frail older people and specialist day care for those living with dementia.

After completing an MSc by research part time while working as a senior staff nurse in Acute Medicine, she embarked on PhD work, pursuing interests in the nursing care of people living with dementia. Since completing the PhD Sarah has held teaching and research posts within Nursing Studies continuing with work around dementia, the nursing care of older people in acute hospital, as well as pursuing an interest in Alcohol Related Brain Damage (ARBD).

Responsibilities & affiliations

Sarah held the Alzheimer Scotland Post-doctoral fellowship between 2014-17, as part of the NHS Lothian Clinical Academic Research Career Scheme.

Undergraduate teaching

Sarah teaches about older people and dementia across the UG nursing curriculum. She is also involved in teaching about qualitative, sociological and creative research approaches.

Course Organiser for 6 current courses;

Nursing Care and Decision Making (BN year 2),

Management of Transitions (BN year 3)

Care of Older People (Hons options BN year 4)

Contemporary Issues in health and wellbeing (MA year 2)

Research Methods in Nursing and Healthcare B (Masters programme online course)

Research Methods in Nursing and Healthcare B: workbased (Masters Programme)

Postgraduate teaching



Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Interested in supervising doctoral students who are working on projects related to;

  • older people, nursing care of older people, care homes and particularly skill mix in care homes, personal identity in older people
  • alcohol related brain damage, cognitive impairment and alcohol, creative and participatory research approaches


Current PhD students supervised

Vanitha Subramanium, Ashikin Atan, Joanna Tam, Xiubin Zhang.

Research summary

Sarah is interested in using qualitative approaches to explore the lives and experiences of older people and those who are engaged in the care of older people. She is interested in understanding care across a range of settings from acute hospital to care homes. Sarah has an interest in innovative and participatory research methods.


Current research interests

• discharge of older people with dementia from acute hospital • discharge of older people to care home • nursing care of people living with dementia and nurses' experiences of caring for this group • nursing care of people with alcohol related brain damage (ARBD) in acute hospital • maintenance of personal identity in dementia and ARBD • qualitative and sociological research methodologies • risk and resilience theories and applications in healthcare • Experiences of alcohol related harm, recovery and support networks. • photovoice and other creative research approaches

Affiliated research centres

Current project grants

An N-of-1 study of the psychosocial determinants of ‘stopping’, ‘switching’ and ‘seeking treatment’ behaviour following Minimum Unit Pricing implementation, Alcohol Research UK (PI Dr Mark McCann, University of Glasgow) £7979

Staying ‘Better Than Well’: an exploration of the experience and ‘key ingredients’ of sustaining recovery within a supportive social environment, Alcohol Research UK, (PI Dr Sarah Rhynas & Co-I Dr Aisha Holloway & Dr Fiona Cuthill) £57,510.93 commenced August 2017

‘Improving engagement with people living with alcohol-related harm: developing communities, policy and service provision.’ (PI Dr Sarah Rhynas & Co-I Dr Aisha Holloway) ESRC Impact Accelerator Grant. £19,287, commenced January 2017

‘Discharge to Care Home – exploring the different perspectives of patients, families and MDT members’. Case study research study. (PI Gemma Logan Co-investigators Dr Sarah J. Rhynas & Dr Jennifer Harrison) Edinburgh Lothian Health Foundation, £25,000 June 2016-Nov 2017, extended into 2018

Past project grants

Completed Research Projects:
‘Discharge from acute hospital to care home: a retrospective case note review of 100 consecutive discharges from hospital to care home’ (PI Dr Juliet MacArthur) Funded by Gibson Trust, £12,000. Completed 2016.

‘Using Photovoice as an innovative methodology across disciplines to explore the role of environment in recovery from alcohol related harm.’ (PI Dr Aisha Holloway, Co-researchers Dr Sarah J. Rhynas, Dr Eva Silvierinha de Oliveriera, Dr Niamh Shortt) Funded by University of Edinburgh Challenge Investment Fund, £14,220. Project completed July 2015

‘Exploring the lives of people living with alcohol related brain damage (ARBD) using photographic art’ (PI Dr Aisha Holloway, Co-Investigator Dr Sarah J Rhynas) Funded by University of Edinburgh KE Fund & Gardner Bequest. £10,000. Project completed June 2014

View all 16 publications on Research Explorer