After graduating from the Open University in 1994, Vanessa worked as a researcher at Bangor University while she undertook her PhD. After completing her PhD in 1998, Vanessa became Deputy Director of the Centre for Social Policy Research and Development at Bangor University and in 2004 took over as Director. Vanessa was awarded a personal Chair at Bangor in 2007, and shortly after moved to Swansea University, as Director of the Centre for Innovative Ageing. In 2016 Vanessa was also appointed Director of the pan-Wales Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research

Vanessa holds a public appointment as the research member of the Ministerial Advisory Forum on Ageing and is co-Chair of My Home Life Cymru. Personal awards include Fellow of the Academy of Social Science and Senior Research Leader for Health and Care Research Wales. In 2015 and 2017 she won the College of Human and Health Science outstanding contribution to research award. She is a member of the ESRC DTC Peer Review College. She sits on the ESRC Grants Assessment Panel C and is member of the Board for Health and Care Research Wales. Vanessa sits on the CHHS Senior Management Board, the Social Care Ethics Committee, and the Research Committee.

Vanessa has worked on and led international and national research projects worth approximately £18M, and has supervised 23 post-graduate students. Her research interests include loneliness, support networks, intergenerational relationships, social exclusion, rurality, migration of older people and attachment to place and she has published more than 50 articles and book chapters on these topics.

Publications

  1. & A Social Model of Loneliness: The Roles of Disability, Social Resources, and Cognitive Impairment. The Gerontologist, gnw125
  2. & Social support networks of older migrants in England and Wales: the role of collectivist culture. Ageing and Society, 1-25.
  3. & Poor Health and Loneliness in Later Life: The Role of Depressive Symptoms, Social Resources, and Rural Environments. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 69(2), 311-324.
  4. & Older People’s External Residential Assessment Tool (OPERAT): a complementary participatory and metric approach to the development of an observational environmental measure. BMC Public Health 16(1)
  5. & Transnational Relationships and Cultural Identity of Older Migrants. GeroPsych 29(2), 57-69.

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Supervision

  • Independence and Ageing - An examination of the role that Care & Repair Cymru caseworkers undertake in facilitating independent living for older people in Wales. (Preliminary) (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Sarah Hillcoat-Nalletamby
    Other supervisor: Prof Vanessa Burholt
  • The experience of informal carers of people with young onset dementia (YOD) in rural Wales (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Vanessa Burholt
    Other supervisor: Dr Paul Nash
  • The role of social support networks in the dementia literacy of older people (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Vanessa Burholt
    Other supervisor: Dr Martin Hyde
    Other supervisor: Dr Sarah Hillcoat-Nalletamby
  • Social Transformations: Pathways to Residential Care for Older People in Tamil Nadu (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Vanessa Burholt
    Other supervisor: Dr Paul Nash
  • ''Policy, Process and Personalities: An exploration of the Interconnected factors that influence Interprofessional working with risk and older people within a multidisciplinary team '' (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Fiona Verity
    Other supervisor: Prof Vanessa Burholt
    Other supervisor: Prof Judith Phillips
  • Unlocked voices: the impact of creative writing interventions on the wellbeing of people with dementia (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Vanessa Burholt
    Other supervisor: Prof David Britton
  • 'Social Exclusion among Older People in Rural Areas: A multilevel and lifecourse perspective' (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Vanessa Burholt
    Other supervisor: Prof Norah Keating
  • 'Relationship Convoys and Wellbeing in Older Americans' (awarded 2017)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Vanessa Burholt
    Other supervisor: Dr Paul Nash

Administrative Responsibilities

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2007 Present Director of the Centre for Innovative Ageing Swansea University
2004 2007 Head of the Centre for Social Policy Research and Development Bangor University

External Responsibilities

Key Grants and Projects

  • Older People’s External Residential Assessment Tool (OPERAT) 2013 - 2015

    , with M. Roberts, G. Windle, S. Lannon, NISCHR

  • Dementia and imagination: connecting communities and developing well-being through socially engaged visual arts practice 2013 - 2015

    , with G. Windle, A. Newman, C. Parkinson, V. Tischler, D. O’Brien, B. Woods, AHRC

  • Develop methods to assess the quality and costs of integrated older people’s services, to drive national service re-design and realise associated financial and social benefits 2012 - 2014

    , with S. Chichlowska, ESRC, TSB, Welsh Government

  • The role of older people’s support networks in health literacy and patterns of health and social care service use 2012 - 2015

    , with M. Edwards, A. Williams, NISCHR

  • Inter, intra-generational and transnational caring in minority communities in Wales 2011 - 2013

    , with S. Doebler, C. Victor, W. Martin, NISCHR

  • The closure of care homes for older people in Wales: Prevalence, process and impact 2010 - 2011

    , with C. Beech, B. Winter, J. Phillips, NISCHR

  • End of life care for older people in Wales: Policy, practice and the effectiveness of the Integrated Care Pathway for the Last Days of Life 2010 - 2011

    , with C. Dobbs, S. Chichlowska, K. Bullen, NISCHR

  • Inter, intra-generational and transnational caring in minority communities. 2010 - 2013

    , with C. Dobbs, C. Victor, W. Martin, A. Ahmet, Leverhulme Trust

  • Maintaining function and well-being in later life: A longitudinal cohort study 2010 - 2016

    J. Phillips, M. Edwards, B. Woods, G. Windle, L. Clare, K. Bennett, C. McCracken, C. Brayne, F. Matthews, ESRC

  • Grey and Pleasant Land? An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Connectivity of Older People in Rural Civic Society 2008 - 2012

    J. Phillips, C. Musselwhite, C. Hennessey, R. Means, G. Parkhurst, K. Jones, K. Galvin, L. Todres, I. Biggs, S. Biggs, N. Curry, P. Milbourne, R. Jones , ESRC

  • Extracare: meeting the needs of fit or frail older people? 2008 - 2012

    J. Phillips, S. Mahoney, P. Nash, NISCHR

Research Groups

  • Centre for Innovative Ageing

    Thematic groups: Environments of Ageing; Community, intergenerational and family relationships; Social care – Health and Wellbeing; Rights, Equality and Inclusion