Members of the Group

To minimise time commitment and maximise communication and dissemination of information, the Group has adopted a representative model, where nominated members of the five Schools sit on the group for a rotational period. The Chair is a rotational three year post, and the Group is currently Chaired by Professor Sue Read.

Read Sue

Sue Read

Professor of Learning Disability Nursing in the School of Nursing and Midwifery

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Sue Read

Her research interests include loss, death, dying and bereavement specifically, although not exclusively, with people with a learning disability. Sue is primarily interested in applied research that has a demonstrable impact on practice. She has developed (in conjunction with people with learning disabilities, parents and numerous clinicians and other professionals) a range of resources (leaflets, booklets; films; and workbooks) around loss, bereavement and end of life care. Sue is currently involved in an action research project in partnership with people with a learning disability, to develop a flexible, computer based, interactive tool to support loss and transition.

She has also led an innovative initiative entitled ‘Toolkits for Better Health’, developing Toolkits to promote health access for marginalised groups. Sue co-chaired the School of Nursing’s User and Carer Implementation Group for 5 years, prior to bringing together representatives across the Faculty to develop the FHUCLG and to promote consistency around user and carer engagement. Sue has published journal articles and book chapters around the topic area from a research and practice perspective, some of which have been written in conjunction with parents, carers and adults with a learning disability. She is currently editing a book entitled ‘Loss. Caring and compassion: An intellectual disability perspective’ (Jessica Kingsley Publishers), which involves a range of international expert authors , including parents, carers and people with an intellectual disability.

School Profile: Sue Read


Aries Alison

Alison Aries

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Alison Aries

Having qualified from Wolverhampton School of Physiotherapy in 1986 I worked within the NHS for over 25 years, finally leaving my last permanent NHS post in September 2012. I have gained a broad background of experience, holding senior posts in many different specialities, including two years in general medicine / elderly care, six years within the field of surgical  / ITU and three years in neurology, prior to moving into the community to work.  My role, over the last decade has enabled consolidation of my neurological skills while I was working within the Community Intermediate Care Team as a senior physiotherapist. I was involved in managing staff and also developing the service and I played a key role in the development of the Early Supported Discharge for stroke service in Wolverhampton. I am continuing with some bank hours working as a physiotherapist within the Community Intermediate Care Team.

Having completed an MSc in Neuromusculoskeletal Rehabilitation in May 2003 I commenced work as an academic lecturer in July 2003 as a 0.5 FTE member of staff, within the School of Health and Rehabilitation (SHAR) at Keele University. Until September 2012 I also continued to work as a senior physiotherapist 11.5 hours a week. In October 2012 I increased to a 0.8FTE lecturer. My research interests lie predominantly in neurology, in particular neuroplasticity and rehabilitation of stroke patients. I also have an interest in critical appraisal skills and evidenced based practice.

As a lecturer at Keele I taught both at an undergraduate and postgraduate level, mainly within the field of neurology. I have undertaken several roles within SHAR including Year 2 head, part of the admissions team and module leader roles and programme lead for the Neurological Rehabilitation MSc programme, Disability Liaison Officer and also the SHAR representative for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences User and Carer Liaison Group.

Alison Aries' Staff Profile


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Dr Sue Ashby

Sue is the User and Care Lead at the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

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Dr Sue Ashby

Sue is the User and Care Lead at the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Sue started working in adult general nursing in 1986, at the City General Hospital in North Staffordshire. In 1994 she moved from hospital based nursing to community nursing as a member of the district nursing service; later becoming involved in nursing patients who would have usually required a hospital admission but with extra health care support were able to remain at home as hospital in the home type services were developed. Sue moved across to education in 2005 and now teaches on both pre and post registration courses at Keele University School of Nursing & Midwifery. Sue is the pathway lead for the post registration BSc Clinical practice (Long Term Conditions).

Sue’s interests include working with service users and carers to inform nurse education and the provision of healthcare services. Sue’s PhD explored the experiences of older people whilst presenting with and recovering from an unplanned health event.

School Profile: Sue Ashby


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Ed Chadwick

Ed is the Users and Carers Liaison Group representative from the Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine.

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Ed Chadwick

Ed is the Users and Carers Liaison Group representative from the Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine. His research interests are in developing rehabilitation technologies for improving arm function in people with spinal cord injury, stroke survivors and others with long-term conditions, whose independence is limited by poor arm function.

Ed earned his PhD from the University of Strathclyde in 1999, and has held research positions in The Netherlands, the USA and the UK since then. He has been at Keele since September 2012 and currently teaches modules related to medical devices on the post-graduate course in Biomedical Engineering as well as continuing to pursue his research interests in rehabilitation technology. He is particularly interested in technological developments that lower the barriers to adoption of advanced medical and assistive devices.

Ed Chadwick's Staff Profile


Mike Dixon

Mike Dixon

Mike Dixon is a graduate in accountancy and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Prior to premature retirement owing to severe ill-health, he was a Group Company Financial Director for some years.

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Mike Dixon

Mike is a graduate in accountancy and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Prior to premature retirement owing to severe ill-health, he was a Group Company Financial Director for some years. He worked solely in industry, having experience in airframe manufacturing, a large range of different packaging products, fine ceramics and finally in engineering. During his career, alongside his financial and secretarial responsibilities Mike also held portfolios in marketing, human resource management, industrial relations, health and safety and risk management. Whilst working within a multi-national corporation there was an active role in training prospective accountants, including lecturing on relevant topics.

Currently Chairman of the Community Health Voice, an independent patient involvement group working mainly in Stoke-on-Trent but active across Staffordshire, which Mike helped to found, he is occupied as a patient and community representative. The Group’s objectives include participation as a "patient voice" over a range of committees and activities within the local NHS , social care and associated bodies, such as Keele University, Faculty of Health.

Mike sits on a range of committees within the local commissioning, hospital and community health service provider which draw on his experience gained during his career and his contact with a network of patient views. Complementing these activities, he has also helped steer various research projects and developments to facilitate a “patient voice” and volunteer participation in a number of areas including academia.

In all his activities, Mike is able to supply a strong, independent view as a volunteer and patient.


Sarah Thirlwall

Sarah is the User and Carers Liaison Group representative from the School of Medicine.

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Sarah Thirlwall

Sarah has worked for the School of Medicine since 2006 starting her role as Administrator to the Head of School. Following a secondment working with the placements team, Sarah was appointed to the post on a full time basis and has transformed the placements process for students and staff, reducing both time and costs associated with the process.

As a key contact for staff working in affiliated GP practices and trusts, Sarah's key role is to develop the engagement the School has with both carers and users of the health service.

Sarah is also the main contact for the School's 3rd sector providers who not only offer placements to the early years of students, but also engage in a 15-week long Community Leadership Project with the final year students.

Sarah is also working closely with academic staff to develop a system to support patient feedback and is involved in recruiting lay members to sit on School committees and to act as lay interviewers of prospective students.


Steven Blackburn

Steven Blackburn

Steven is a mixed-methods researcher with experience of user-centred design of technologies and the development of questionnaires with patients.

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Steven Blackburn

Steven is a mixed-methods researcher with experience of user-centred design of technologies and the development of questionnaires with patients. As as result, Steven has developed a keen interest in how the public can be actively involved in research. His current research activities within the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre are examining the impact of patient and public involvement in primary care research and understanding how research findings can be best disseminated to the public. Steven also works for the Keele Hub of the Research Design Service West Midlands, providing support and guidance on public involvement and qualitative methods to researchers applying for research funding.

Initially trained as Bioengineer, specialising in biomechanics, Steven has conducted several studies to identify the needs of patients and other stakeholders to develop, deploy and evaluate medical devices and digital assistive technologies (including telecare and telehealth) to support and deliver healthcare in patients’ homes. This included community-based clinical trials of medical devices and home-based healthcare technologies in elderly and disabled populations, and patients with long term conditions. Steven has also conducted several international research studies to develop clinical and patient reported outcomes measures (PROMs) for clinical trials.

Steven Blackburn


Carol Rhodes

Carol Rhodes

I work for the Primary Care Centre at Keele University as the Patient and Public Involvement Coordinator.

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Carol Rhodes

I work for the Primary Care Centre at Keele University as the Patient and Public Involvement Coordinator.  Within the Primary Care Centre we have a Research User Group of over 60 patients involved in over 60 different projects – in qualitative, quantitative and clinical trials – researching the treatment of long term conditions within primary care, particularly musculoskeletal conditions. All of these members bring their patient perspective which we call ‘expertise by experience’ of living with a long term condition to the research teams they work with.  So my role is to act as a bridge between two different worlds, researchers and patients. As a patient with fibromyalgia a musculoskeletal condition, I feel it is really important to future research that the two work together.

I am also a member of Involve an organisation set up to support active public involvement in NHS, public health and social care research. Their role is to bring together expertise, insight and experience in the field of public involvement in research, with the aim of advancing it as an essential part of the process by which research is identified, prioritised, designed, conducted and disseminated.

I have also presented to and worked closely with the EULAR (European League Against Rheumatism) group of Research Partners. A European initiative of patients from across Europe who are involved in European funded studies to improve the treatment of rheumatic diseases across Europe. I never cease to be amazed by the effort that some patients with these conditions are willing to go to, in order to help improve treatment for the future generations.