In June 2017, Kathryn Lord was lucky enough to be supported by the University of Bradford to access an Erasmus+ Staff Mobility Grant. With this grant, Kathryn visited esteemed colleagues at three institutions across the Netherlands. In this blog, Kathryn talks a bit about her experience and how this trip has informed her future research directions.
What is Erasmus?
Erasmus+ is the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport. Many of the initiatives are based on opportunities for students and recent graduates, but funding is also available to help lecturers, researchers and non-academic staff develop their skills in adult education environments around Europe.
The Erasmus+ Staff Mobility Grant is designed to enable the transfer of knowledge and good practice from institutions in order to improve teaching and learning. It is not only a great way to pick up new ideas and practices from a different education system, but it also gives you the chance to build a relationship with that institution. Whether it’s two days or two months, Erasmus+ can help provide funding for the trip by contributing towards the cost of your travel and expenses. Erasmus+ covers 32 countries in Europe outside the UK: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, Macedonia, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Turkey.
Where did I visit?
The first stop on my week-long trip was to The Trimbos Institute in Utrecht
The Trimbos Institutes mission is ‘to contribute to the improvement of mental health by sharing knowledge. The Trimbos Institute seeks to enhance the quality of life of the population by engaging in the development and application of knowledge about mental health, addictions, and associated physical illnesses, both in the Netherlands and abroad’. I discussed with colleagues their use of the University of Bradford’s Dementia Care Mapping (DCM) tool. I also discussed ways that I can continue to improve as an academic. They suggested the use of more business like approaches to conducting and managing research projects, such as empowering employees to work where, when and how they choose.
I spent the next two days at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre.
These world leaders in implementation research provided two days learning about some of their innovative work and provided the opportunity to discuss my own upcoming research projects. It was fantastic to get their perspective on what I was doing and I really think their knowledge will strengthen my work going forward. One of my take home lessons from this visit (there were so many!) was ‘It’s about turning your complaints into wishes’ – it can be frustrating sometimes being a researcher with the bureaucracy and financial pressures, but trying to change my perspective on how I view a situation going forward is always a good thing to remember to do.
Last but by no means least, I spent my final two days in the Netherlands at Maastricht University: Living Lab in Aging & Long-Term Care; CAPHRI Care and Public Health Research Institute; Department of Health Services Research. Here I had the fantastic opportunity to speak individually with a large number of the researchers about the great work they are doing, much of which aligns very well with my own research interests. I spoke with colleagues about decision-making, delirium in hospitals and green care farms. I also got to learn a lot about how researchers at CAPHRI are really embedded in changing practice in the care organisations they work with, and how a lot of the research they do is led by the ideas of service providers and users.
All in all, I had a fantastic week in the Netherlands. I learnt a lot about thinking of more innovative and creative ways that myself and the team can work. I also met colleagues who were very impressed by the current work of the University of Bradford and I hope we can foster future collaborations together so that the learning from both countries can be shared to improve the lives of people living with dementia and their families.
Finally, I would just like to say a huge thank you to Dr Bernadette Willemse, Professor Myrra Vernooij-Dassen and Dr Hilde Verbeek for being such wonderful and inspirational hosts, and allowing me to spend time with yourselves and your teams.