PhD Researcher

My PhD title is The Development of an Indoor Environmental Assessment Tool for People with Mild to Moderate Dementia Living in Nursing Homes, Residential Homes, Sheltered Housing and Extra Care Housing.

My Background

Having completed a BSc in Psychology at Swansea University and being awarded a British Psychological Society prize, I changed direction and started and MSc in Ageing Studies, for which I was awarded a scholarship. This led to an interest particularly in dementia and encouraged me to begin a PhD in dementia care environments, particularly physical environments.

During my MSc I worked as a volunteer for Age Cymru Swansea Bay on the triage phone lines. Here I gained first-hand experience of the issues surrounding dementia as well as many other queries. I intend to continue voluntary work in this sector during the course of my PhD studies.

My Research

Having studied the literature about housing options for older people with dementia, the aims of different housing options vary considerably. The desire is to maintain a level of independence, particularly activities of daily living, this becomes more difficult as the dementia progresses, leading to potential safety issues. Sheltered and extra care housing are designed to promote ability where care homes focus far more on a safe environment. There needs to be a middle ground.

The key aim of this study is to develop and test a tool that could potentially improve indoor living environments for those in the mild to moderate stages of dementia across a range of residential settings (sheltered housing, extra care housing, residential homes and nursing homes). It will enable users to assess the suitability of the living environment for those with dementia but could also be used in the development of new facilities for those with dementia.

The literature review shows a link between indoor living environment and maintenance of autonomy and independence in a safe setting.

The research has four phases-

  1. A literature review.
  2. Use of literature review to inform development of data collection tool for the focus group.
  3. The qualitative development of the scale through focus groups and interviews.
  4. The testing of the scale involving cognitive interviews with stakeholders.

 There will be a focus group and a cognitive interview in each of the four settings.

  1. Sheltered housing.
  2. Extra care housing.
  3. Residential homes.
  4. Nursing homes.

Also, one to one interviews with professionals such as care home managers and housing association managers will be carried out. The aim is to recruit 36 participants in all, 8 from each setting. These will include a mix of 7 participants with dementia and their carers and 1 professional in each setting.


Dr Martin Hyde, Dr Deborah Morgan


Picture of Verity Walters