Having been involved in the work of Beatrice Godwin in the last months of her life Professor Poland was impressed with her unique drive to transform our views of consequences for people’s expressions of themselves and their identities, when living with dementia. This lecture will track some of the lessons for us from what Beatrice accomplished in an extraordinary way in later stages of her life as she addressed methodological, practical and theoretical challenges to reframing people with dementia in research.
Professor Fiona Poland is a Professor of Social Research Methodology at UEA. Her career concern has been to use, develop and innovate qualitative research methods and technologies to recognise wellbeing and participation concerns of individuals and communities particularly older people and carers and to support the agency and connectedness of disadvantaged and commonly-excluded groups.
Beatrice started her studies at Bath in 2003 and began a PhD in 2005, which focused on the experiences of people living with dementia in the United Kingdom. Beatrice had an interest in the communication and insight of people with advanced dementia. Shortly after commencement of her doctoral studies Beatrice was diagnosed with Lymphoma and her ill health resulted in a number of admissions to hospital and suspensions of her study. In 2014 Beatrice was in remission and continued to work on her doctoral project.
Unfortunately early in 2015 Beatrice became unwell again and the return of lymphoma was diagnosed as terminal. She had started her fieldwork and was interviewing people with dementia in residential homes across the South West. She undertook these interviews alongside intensive medical treatments whilst continuing to write about her research. Beatrice was blessed with great personal intellectual qualities, an unfailing tenacity and commitment to her research despite illness and discomfort.