Dr. Michelle Heward is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and a member of the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre (ADRC) at Bournemouth University (BU).

She trained as a Sociologist and is interested in inclusive approaches for research using qualitative and mixed methodolo-gies and the delivery of training using innovative methodologies. Her research centres on care and support in later life and for people with dementia, focused on two core areas: innovative workforce development and service delivery; and inclusive and engaging environments.

She regularly teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate level and facilitates training sessions for care providers, public engagement events, seminars and workshops. Michelle is also the ADRC Service User and Carer Involvement Lead and an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Champion.

She is passionate about user involvement in research and has experience of involving older people, people with dementia, family carers and other key stakeholders in research. Michelle organises and facilitates the ADRC Virtual Research Coffee Mornings, where researchers and practitioners engage with members of the public socially and to share research.

While at BU, Michelle has taken 9 months maternity leave. As a result of changes made to BU policies as part of a programme to improve the research environment, Michelle was able to take this leave, and had a choice about whether to return as a full-time or part-time member of staff.
Michelle had this to say about her maternity leave experience.

“On reflection I feel that maternity leave had a positive impact on my home and work life. Several months before I fell pregnant the policy at Bournemouth University changed and it meant that I was entitled to six months of full pay and three months at a lower rate. The opportunity to spend this quality time with my daughter in those early days was so valuable to me and has shaped the relationship I have with her now.

I enjoy my career and for me personally knowing that I had a job to return to that could offer me flexibility around caring for my daughter was essential. When I decided to return, my line managers were really understanding and left it up to me to decide whether I would like to return full or part time depending on what suited my family, which I really appreciated.”

On her return to work, Michelle resumed her role as the Co-Chair of the BU Research Staff Association, and as a BU Research Staff Representative, and as a UK Research Staff Association Representative (South of England). She is keen to promote positive research culture at BU and ensure that researchers are aware of the Research Concordat, have opportunities to disseminate their work, discuss career opportunities, and feedback about their experiences of working at BU.