Miguel Vasconcelos Da Silva on moving his work online during the pandemic, his nursing background and favourite books

For this interview we spoke to Miguel Vasconcelos Da Silva who is a Registered Nurse, and Dementia and Related Disorders and Dementia Theme Manager in the Department of Old Age Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience.

Please can you give us an overview of your role?

I’m the Dementia Theme Manager at the Old Age Psychiatry (OAP) Department, King’s College London, managing a portfolio of the OAP studies and working on various research projects involving older people living with dementia. These include the L-study, ENLIST-UK and the WHELD.

The WHELD platform aims to bring together conversations and resources to share stories and solutions to the challenges care homes face. Short, digestible and practical digital resources and tools that are easily accessible and supported by a network of WHELD coaches create a community that allows us to stay connected and support Care Homes at a distance.

Can you give a brief overview of your career? What are you most proud of?

I qualified in 2009 at the University of Madeira then worked as a General Nurse in care homes where I developed my skills in working with older adults and people living with dementia.

At the end of 2010 I started working in the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit at King’s College Hospital, and developed my skills further as a General Nurse, with a specialising in Stroke Care, completing the Stroke Care Module in 2013. During my time on the ward, I developed an interest in research, and became involved in ongoing Stroke research. In 2014 started working for the Health and Social Care Research department at King’s College London conducting Stroke Research, where I developed my knowledge and skills as a researcher.

At the end of 2014 started working for the Clinical Trials Team at the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, King’s College London. In this position, I have contributed to a range of research projects.

I started my PhD in 2017 at the University of Exeter. My PhD work consisted of a Genome Wide Association Analysis to identify genetic markers in apathy in people with dementia. This helps us understand and the definition of apathy and works as a diagnostic criteria. This may also help in the revision and development of more suitable and targeted treatments for apathy. 

How did you get interested in research?

I have always had an interest in working with older adults and people living with dementia. Very early on in my career whilst working in care homes I’ve seen the impact that dementia has on individuals and their families. Besides memory problems that are commonly associated with Alzheimer's disease people often experience other behavioural symptoms and interestingly apathy is one of the most common. This started my interest and led to the development of my PhD project at the University of Exeter focusing on apathy in Alzheimer’s disease.

Any favourite parts of your role?

I enjoy working with care homes and working with people living with dementia to understand resident’s and staff needs, and to improve their quality of life.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your work and life? What Covid-19 specific projects have you worked on?

I’ve had to reduce interaction with co-workers, I feel it even in small things like being unable to go for coffee together. I learnt about working remotely, and having to adapt research to this remote working style.

Part of this adapting was introducing more online projects, for example I worked on an online PROTECT COVID-19 survey, a pandemic impact on Care Homes study, the E-BAME study. We’re also supporting vaccine trials for care homes.

What are you working on at the moment?

We are looking to understand the impact of the pandemic in care homes, which strategies have worked well, and which needs have to be addressed, to support them better and share their experiences through the pandemic.

In addition, I’m working on the WHELD platform to improve the quality of life and wellbeing for people with dementia living in care homes during the pandemic.

All about you

Favourite book / TV series / box set

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind/ Hollywood / The Marvellous Mrs Maisel

Who is your science hero?

Florence Nightingale

How would you spend your perfect Saturday?

A walk in the forest/woods and baking

Best discovery of lockdown(s)

Local parks

Tags: BRC Interview Series - Dementia and related disorders - Covid-19 -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 20 Jan 2021, 09:00 AM

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