My PhD title is Age Friendly Communities for people with Mobility Difficulties
Studying part time with the Open University, I gained a degree in Psychology and Criminology and subsequently an MSc in Social Research Methods at Swansea University in 2016 with a dissertation project investigating whether wheelchair use can contribute to social isolation.
Now at the Centre for Innovative Ageing my research interests continue to focus around Environments of Ageing. The PhD I am conducting explores how we adapt to the use of mobility aids acquired through ageing or chronic illness needs. This is approached by understanding how people, society and the environment encompass these changes or if people become excluded because they do not meet a prescribed expectation of a ‘normal body’ or normal movement.
The study investigates the use of mobility aids such as walking sticks and wheelchairs, and also aids like white sticks for the visually impaired. In addition to the disabling conditions that require their use, mobility aids have been shown to impact on everyday relationships, routines and practices sometimes leading to social isolation. Using ethnographic methodologies, the everyday routines of mobility aid users are being investigated to understand how well public places and spaces such as shops, GP practices, dental surgeries, public buildings, shopping centres and markets accommodate mobility aid users. It also incorporates systems such as public transport and personal transportation. I call people mobility aid users because for the purposes of this study, it is the use of the mobility aid that is being investigated, although this obviously cannot be completely separated from any disability or illness.
Dr Charles Musselwhite, Dr Ashley Frawley, Dr Gideon Calder
Other Academic Achievements
I have presented my research at a number of public engagement events, including seminars, workshops & conferences. These include:
- Cyber Network Conference: Research, Engagement & Impact: Swansea University (September 2017)
The constant flux and complexity of a hypermobile world were examined in this presentation, along with the ways in which older people can be included or excluded from cyber networks.
- CADR Research Seminar – Environments of Ageing: Swansea University (September 2017)
A presentation focused upon the design of my study in seeking to understand to role of mobility aids, rather than ageing or disabling conditions, in lifestyle changes or changes to relationships was presented. The presentation also explored the different ways older people might relate to mobility aid use.
- Universities’ Transport Study Group Annual Conference UCL (University College London) (January 2018)
This presentation discussion combining the mobilities paradigm with a critical gerontology approach to create a novel but effective way of addressing the transport and travel needs and behaviour of older people. As a particularly marginalised group in transport terms, the transport exclusion of older people using mobility aids was explored through the critical gerontology and mobilities lens.
- Social Policy and Practice Seminar – Swansea University (March 2019)
Entitled ‘Towards a Critical Geromobilities approach for studying the mobility of an ageing population’ this presentation and discussion was a continuation of combining critical gerontology and the mobilities paradigm. The session outlined why understanding the routines and needs from a practical day to day perspective may be enhanced with understanding from a paradigm designed to examine the needs of this social group who are known to lose social connections through reduced travel options.
- British Society of Gerontology Conference: University of Manchester (July 2019)
Presentation of findings from my PhD research regarding the travel and social needs of older people who use mobility aids, which is a relatively unexplored area even though social circles can decline with mobility aid use. Excerpts from 12 mobility aid users and 6 carers were discussed.
I have also undertaken some lecturing duties throughout the duration of my PhD study. I have given a lecture on my own research to MSc Ageing and Gerontology students, giving them an insight into the process of designing and carrying out a PhD research project. I have also lectured on two undergraduate modules: Ageism and Comparative Population Ageing (Social Policy) and Disability, Policy and Society (Sociology) and on the MSc module Older People, Citizenship and Participation.
Swansea University Research as Art Competition 2018 Runner Up
Swansea University Postgraduate Research as Art 2018 Overall Runner-Up