BiographyI have backgrounds in Social Anthropology (PhD, University of Cambridge and MA, University of Alberta), Occupational Therapy (BScOT, University of Alberta and DipCOT, St. Joseph's College of Occupational Therapy, Dublin) and History (MA, University of Limerick). I have held positions at the University of Central Lancashire (1998-2007) and Leipzig University (based at Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu) (2007-2008). I joined the University of Limerick in 2009.
My current research explores the meaning of occupation/work in mid-20th Century Irish mental health institutions from the perspectives of patients, staff and the public thereby drawing attention to the complex social, historical, political and healthcare contexts which have shaped (and continue to shape) Irish mental health services and the profession of occupational therapy.
A second research strand focuses on service users' experiences of forensic mental health settings and explores how people experience everyday life, create meaning and manage their daily activities and social relationships in circumstances marked by uncertainty and confinement.
Previous anthropological research undertaken in Nepal focused on everyday life practices, oral healing traditions and mental health and resulted in key publications including a monograph on the impact of Nepal's civil war (1996-2006) on social life, cultural practices and wellbeing titled Maoists at the Hearth: Everyday Life in Nepal's Civil War.
A project at planning stage, which draws on digital technologies and anthropological and historical research approaches, will explore the development of the practice, structures and intellectual heritage of occupational therapy with children in Ireland (1970-2022). This project will contribute to debates on paradigm shifts in occupational therapy and will develop frameworks and protocols for the development of occupational therapy archives.
I have secured competitive funding from a variety of national and international sources. I am currently the Principal Investigator for: (i) the National Council for Special Education's Occupational Therapy Support Services for Schools Project and (ii) a collaborative project between UL and UL Hospitals Group, which explores multiple stakeholder's experiences of the Intermediate Care Facility established at UL as a field hospital during COVID's initial phase.
I am a member of the CORU (Health & Social Care Professionals Council) Speech and Language Therapists Registration Board and served as chair from 2017-2021.