As a sociologist, Fiona’s research and teaching reflects her many years' experience developing multidisciplinary research on community-based support, especially for older people and particularly those living with dementia and their paid and unpaid carers while living at home, in care homes and other settings. Her research projects and publications explore how and how far community connections and participation may affect access to resources for health and wellbeing. She was twice Chair and is currently Vice Chair of the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector (ARVAC) and is active within national and regional groups of the NIHR Dementias and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DeNDRoN). Her teaching is mainly in qualitative, mixed and participative research methods. She is currently examining how qualitative methods can be “embedded” unobtrusively within clinical and quantitative designs to encourage more collaboration in research, evidence-building and learning, in dementia support and in living with life-changing health conditions. She has successfully supervised PhD students across a wide range of health and social support-related topics and disciplines, emphasising innovative and inclusive approaches to research. She has recently been awarded grants totalling £16 million. She has 80 peer-reviewed publications and is journal editor of Quality in Ageing and Older Adults. Her contribution to participative and community-based working was recognised in 2013 by the University of East Anglia’s Individual Award for Engagement.


  • 1992-1998 Lecturer in Sociology, Acting Research Programme Coordinator, School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, University of Wales, Bangor
  • 1991-1992 Development Officer, Research Exchange, University of Manchester
  • 1990-1991 Census Officer, 1991 Census, OPCS
  • 1988-1992 Freelance consultant in social research and evaluation, research training with independent agencies and HE research projects in health and social care
  • 1986-1988 Research Associate, Dept of Sociology, University of Manchester
  • 1985-1986 Development Officer, Research Exchange, Manchester.
  • 1978-1985 Research Assistant, Manchester Social Services Department

Academic Background

  • 1978 BA Econ (Hons) Social Anthropology, II(i) University of Manchester
  • 1983 MA Econ, Applied Social Research, Distinction, University of Manchester
  • 1992 PhD, Sociology Department, University of Manchester Thesis title: Negotiating spaces: deploying ethnography, acquaintanceship and other resources in Rochdale.

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