Welcome to URKEIS

Welcome to the blog for the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care Undergraduate Research and Knowledge Exchange Internship Scheme – or URKEIS for short!

The Faculty takes pride in both its research and its students. With the inaugural URKEIS cohort, we will help five undergraduate students develop their research skills. These interns will work on real-world projects alongside experienced researchers from the Faculty.

Over the coming weeks, you’ll have a chance to meet the interns, hear from the project teams, and learn about the exciting research they’re undertaking.

The five URKEIS projects this year are:

Qualitative study examining the attitudes, awareness and understanding of nutrition in post-MI patients attending cardiac rehabilitation

Following a myocardial infarction (MI), patients often receive advice to adopt a Mediterranean Diet. This project looks to determine the nutritional knowledge of such patients, determine the level of adherence to the Mediterranean Diet, and identify the attitudes, understanding and patient-focussed ways to improve provision of dietary information during cardiac rehabilitation.

Predicting cognitive decline in prodromal Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is often though of as a disorder of the motor system, but people with PD also frequently experience cognitive decline. This project aims to apply a new method for the analysis of brain scans to a database that holds brain scans and logitudinal cognitive data for hundreds of people with PD, to establish the method’s efficacy in predicting cognitive decline in patients who have not yet developed any PD symptoms.

Mind music and dementia, improving care home outcomes – a pilot study

This project explores the role of live music as a therapy for people living with dementia. The research team and intern will examine the impact of live music on the residents in a care home, before, during, and after live performances by musicians from the Northern Chamber Orchestra. The intern will have the opportunity to be involved in interviews and participatory observations with care workers, family carers, friends, and where possible residents.

A mixed methods study to investigate the experiences of and impact on those with osteoarthritis of the ankle on pain, physical functioning, mental wellbeing, and quality of life.

This project will undertake a mixed methods study to ascertain the effectiveness of non-surgical interventions for ankle OA and how these are regarded by patients. It will also explore the experiences of people with ankle OA and the impact it has on pain, physical functioning, mental wellbeing and quality of life. The intern will be involved in undertaking a systematic review and qualitative research including data transformation and analysis.

Young people transitioning to Further Education: a pilot review and scoping exercise of mental wellbeing supports

For young people, the transition to Further Education (college) can bring new and unexpected mental or emotional challenges. Moreover, once studying in Further Education, such difficulties may impede or disrupt a young person’s educational or vocational success. In addition, young people who attend Further Education are more likely than those who attend university to be disadvantaged with regard to their social capital and access to other forms of personal and social support.

Our project aims to gather secondary evidence about the social and educational context(s) in which young people transition into Further Education. This review will focus upon how mental wellbeing is experienced and supported by young people who are making (or have made) the transition into Further Education. Your role, as an Intern, will be to independently (but with appropriate supervision and support) scope and review contemporary literature, evidence, policy and other documents relating to this important topic area.


Mind music and dementia, improving care home outcomes. 3: Partner views

My experiences about dementia and carehomes

Like so many of us, I have personal experience of watching the decline and eventual demise of a close family member. In March 2017, my father lost his six or seven year battle with PSP, a relatively rare form of dementia whose common symptoms are essentially the pernicious destruction of a person’s most basic motor-skills; balance, speech, swallowing and facial expression. This all happens while the patient retains largely fully functioning processes of thought, memory and reasoning. I watched my father become essentially locked in his body.

Through our various visits to hospitals and care homes it became increasingly clear to me that that there was a fundamental lack of knowledge and understanding of my father’s condition from health care professionals and carers. It seemed that even senior doctors in hospitals had not heard of PSP. This led to countless avoidable falls, some of the worst of which occurred in A&E wards.

Following a series of failed attempts to get him settled in nursing homes that were ill-equipped to cope with his needs profile, we were delighted when we did finally manage to find a place in a wonderful care home for my father in August 2016. During his few months, he was extremely well cared for by the excellent staff at the home who had either had previous experience of residents with PSP or who had almost an innate understanding of his needs, ensuring that his final few months were as comfortable and safe as they could be.


Northern Chamber Orchestra and MMU collaboration

Shortly after he was admitted into the new care home, I took over as General Manager of the Northern Chamber Orchestra and was determined to put work with dementia patients at the heart of what our musicians were doing, putting it on at least an equal footing with education work. In partnership with the Faculty of Health at MMU and through the generous sponsorship of Porthaven Care Homes, we had the opportunity to do a series of six informal concerts at the care home in which I had played many times to my father.

I was delighted to be able to give something back to the home, and to see if with the help of Professor Josie Tetley’s team, most importantly Emma Koivunen, the lead researcher on the project, we could make some progress with beginning to understand what all musicians know anecdotally, which is why music has such a profound effect on dementia patients. I had seen first-hand many examples of therapeutic benefit to residents, not to mention the obvious enjoyment that was brought into their lives. There was an obvious social benefit too, as carers, residents and family members were all united as audience- previously clearly defined roles were temporarily suspended. And I was going to be interested to see whether there might be a possible clinical dimension to explore. I have always wondered how music can reignite neural pathways that have seemed to have atrophied. Could clinicians learn something from this? Might more research in this area aid in the cure or at least alleviation of symptoms through drugs or other therapies?

We were very fortunate when we started the project to have the support of the Health Faculty, in particular Emma as I have said and Bakhtawar, an intern who was able to assist in the setting up of the project and crucially in the evaluation and collating of data.


Concerts in the carehome

The whole project, delivered over three days was a wonderful experience. We saw many residents and staff form the home clearly benefit a great deal from the experience and I am sure that some very positive outcomes will be attributable to our intervention. From our point of view, as musicians, we found the process stimulating, moving and often very amusing. Following one of the informal concerts, I was asked if I would mind going down the corridor to play to someone that had been unable to get out of bed to come and hear us. I believe he had Parkinson’s. I got to his room and played for 10 or 15 minutes and he was over the moon. So much so that the following morning I returned with two other musicians and we gave him his own, private concert. This was one of the most moving and meaningful performances I have ever given because it struck me that attending cultural events is something that most of us take completely for granted and regard it as a basic right. Just because he was bed-ridden, why should this clearly very culturally aware man be denied this right, just because he is old and infirm?

The whole experience felt very significant and I am busy working on other ways in which we can roll out the project to other care homes, to other regions. My thanks go to Bakhtawar, Josie Tetley and of course to Emma Koivunen for bringing this whole project to fruition.

Tom Elliott

General Manager, Northern Chamber Orchestra

13 September, 2017


Mind music and dementia, improving care home outcomes. 2: Intern experience

Introduction and why I wanted to do an internship

Hi there!

I’m Bakhtawar, and I have recently finished my second year of a Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University. In my free time I like to read in particular biographies, go to the gym and research on various aspects of Psychology that interests me such as child development.

I was drawn into this internship because of my personal experience with Dementia. I wanted to be part of research that could potentially better the quality of life for people living with dementia and their caregivers, friends and family. I expected this internship to be based around meeting a lot of new people and doing independent work on my observations as well as working alongside my supervisor (Emma-Reetta).

So far, following my inclination to work for a research team on the effect of music on dementia patients has been an extremely positive decision. I have learnt how to adapt into different situations that could arise with dementia patients as well as enhancing my knowledge on dementia and the extremity of the positive effect music has on them.

BA photo


Working in the project

I felt that I was very involved in the project as I attended every visit to the care home when the concerts were being performed, in which I was carrying out observations on the residents’ behaviours. I also took on the role of transcribing the interviews of the staff and the musicians. I also got involved in typing up all the observation notes and some of the musicians’ diaries. I have learnt many things from doing this internship such as how intense music can be for residents in a care home as it could bring back memories making it an emotional journey for them. I have also learnt how to adapt to sensitive situations such as, seeing some residents struggling to recall certain aspects of our conversation in which I reassured them.


Doing research in a carehome

I was surprised to see how many residents got engaged and took part during the concert as most of them showed enthusiastic behaviours such as singing, dancing and playing instruments. It struck me to see how happy some of the residents were and how knowledgeable they were in terms of recognising song lyrics and knowing each song. The biggest challenge for me was seeing some residents that were wanted to get involved but physically were unable to. A positive element of the experience for me was being part of the project itself and working towards raising awareness for dementia.


Benefits of doing an internship

I would definitely recommend an undergraduate internship to another MMU student as it is significantly valuable as it enhances your communication skills and opens up broader opportunities which would benefit students. In the future I hope to work with elderly individuals with illnesses i.e. Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Schizophrenia. I would like to be part of research like this in the future to raise awareness of such mental illnesses; which means they may be discovered early and help the individuals in dealing with it. Additionally, adapting to have a better quality of life for themselves and their family.

Mind music and dementia, improving care home outcomes. 1: Introduction

Who worked in the project

I am a Senior Reserach Associate in the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care, working with Professor of Josie Tetley (Professor of Nursing with focus on Ageing and Long-term conditions).

We had been planning to conduct a collaborative research project with Northern Chamber Orchestra. Josie Tetley, the General Manager of Northern Chamber Orchestra Tom Elliott, myself and others were keen to explore how live music could provide pleasure for people living with dementia in a care home.


The project and why we wanted an intern

We were exploring opportunities to start a project, when the URKEIS internships were announced. We were very interested in this, as an undergraduate student intern working as a reserach assistant would help us complete a pilot project.

We were succesful in getting the funding. This meant we could start the pilot project during the summer 2017. The timing of the internship was ideal as the musicians from NCO had time to come perform in the concerts then too.

The pilot project explored the role of live music for enjoyment for people living with dementia in a care home.


The concerts

Three musicians from NCO and a music therapist developed a programme of music to pay in the care home. The songs varied from calm classical music like Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, classics from the youth of residents, such as White Cliffs of Dover, and high energy songs like the sea shanty “Drunken sailor”. Residents were encouraged to take part in playing different instruments and singing.



The musicians from Northern Chamber Orchestra playing in the carehome lounge (picture: Bakhtawar Ashgar)


Conducting research

Areas of focus were the effect that music has on resident’s wellbeing and their engagement with others. The data about this was collected by using multi-method data collection:

We did participant observation of 7 case studies in the concerts. In this the intern worked with myself to conduct observation of residents reactions in the sessions.

The intern also helped with interviews with musicians and staff in the care home.

We also used an observational scale (QUALIDEM) filled in by the care home staff about the 7 case studies before and after each session.

After the concerts, our intern helped with processing the reserach data, she transcribed the interviews and typed up hand written notes. This made a significant contribution to the project.


Initial findings and stage of project

The initial findings have been very positive. For example, many of the staff members attended the sessions too, listening, singing and even dancing along to the music. In interviews and informal discussions are staff were very positive about the concerts and the impact they had for the residents.

We also gained practical learning on working in a carehome, the support and engagement from staff were excellent, but they also had limitations to their time which we had to take to account.

The project is still ongoing, the research team will be analysing the data collected and writing up findings to a journal paper.


Working with our undergraduate intern Bakhtawar, Tom and the musicians from the Northern Chamber Orchestra, the care home and the reserach team has been a very positive experience and I would like to thank everyone for their contribution to it.


Emma-Reetta Koivunen

Senior Research Associate (Ageing and Longterm Conditions),

Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care, Manchester Metropolitan University

10th September 2017