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Chris Russell

PhD Student

Institute of Health & Society

Contact Details


tel: 01905 542468

Chris Russell is studying for a PhD exploring dementia, sport and identity, focusing upon enabling people with dementia to remain engaged with sporting activity and researching outcomes and potential benefits.  Priorities for investigation include: exploration of social aspects of continued engagement for individuals, and impact upon feelings of self-confidence. The context of the research is community leisure centres. 

Previously, Chris developed and then led the Foundation Degree in Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester. Chris is a qualified social worker, and has worked in community settings for over twenty years, in locations as diverse as London and Lancashire. Using this experience Chris led teaching modules on Masters and Undergraduate level professional social work courses at the Universities of Worcester and Gloucestershire. 

Sport plays a big part in Chris’ life. He is the coach of an Under 15 boys football team, a member of The Football Association of England Licenced Coaches' Club, and is completing the Football Association Level 2 in Coaching Football Award.


Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (2013), University of Worcester. 

MSc Applied Social Studies (1997), University of Oxford.  

BA Honours Sociology & Politics (1992), University of Hull

Teaching, Research and Knowledge Transfer

Teaching, Research and Knowledge Transfer


Between October 2013 and June 2016 Chris Russell led a research project exploring the experiences of people with dementia teaching as Tutors at University, the “Expert by Lived Experience Tutor Initiative”. This provided new insight into aspects of the lived experience of dementia, including diagnosis, citizenship and personhood. The initiative also enabled a greater understanding of how teaching that relates to the lived experience of dementia could be improved and given greater integrity. More detail can be found within articles published on the initiative (please see Publications & Dissemination section).

Chris is currently working towards a PhD: Russell, C., (2016-2019) Sport, Identity and Dementia: The value(s) of sport/leisure pursuits to identity formation and socialisation processes through the onset of dementia, University of Worcester. Research exploring this topic, within the context of community leisure centres, will be conducted during 2017/18. Chris is supervised by Professor Dawn Brooker, Dr Geoff Kohe, and Dr Shirley Evans 


Chris Russell has worked in Higher Education since 2008. Initially he taught in his capacity as a qualified social worker leading Modules at Masters and Undergraduate levels in law, safeguarding, and professional development, and contributing to teaching upon risk. Chris combined his role as an academic lecturer with being a social work practitioner – i.e. he was also employed as a community based social worker during this time.

In 2013 Chris was recruited by the University of Worcester to develop the new Foundation Degree in Dementia Studies. Chris worked alongside people with dementia, family carers, practitioners from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, employers, student representatives and academic colleagues to design and launch the new programme. Chris was Course Leader of the Foundation Degree until October 2016, when he began full-time study for his PhD. As Course Leader Chris held responsibility for the programme which included the delivery of teaching, facilitation of a wider teaching team, and supervising students whilst on placement. Chris also supervised undergraduate students completing independent studies during this time.

Chris has also contributed to teaching and training for the Association for Dementia Studies (University of Worcester), in their commissioned courses across England.

In the Spring of 2017 Chris helped co-develop and deliver the pilot of the Sports Clubs and Dementia Training Initiative, at the University of Worcester. This training will be offered to sports clubs and community leisure centres to assist them apply their understanding of dementia to their own contexts, in order participants with dementia can continue to take part and enjoy activities there. 

Knowledge Transfer:

The LINK Group:

Between October 2013 and October 2016 Chris Russell facilitated the LINK Group. The LINK Group comprises people living with dementia, and carers for people with dementia, and is part of the Association for Dementia Studies, at the University of Worcester. Group members contribute through sharing their experiences of living with dementia with those enrolled on teaching and training programmes at the University of Worcester, and across the United Kingdom. They have established a national and international reputation for their educational work.  The Group is affiliated to the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP). 

Chris is now project leader for the LINK Film Project. The project will create a set of short films, tailored to the needs of the education and training provided by the Association for Dementia Studies and the wider Institute of Health & Society, at the University of Worcester. The films will draw upon the authentic voices of people affected by dementia, i.e. directly from the accounts of members of the LINK Group.

Professional bodies and experience

Professional bodies and experience

Chris Russell is a registered Social Worker with the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council). Chris qualified as a social worker in 1997. He has worked in a range of settings across England since then and uses this experience to inform his research and teaching.

Professional Memberships include:

  •  Member of the International Sociology of Sport Association 

  • Member of the British Society of Gerontology
  • Member of Emerging Researchers in Ageing
  • Member of the International Sociology of Sport Association
Publications and Dissemination

Publications and Dissemination

Peer Reviewed Journals

Russell, C. (2016) People with dementia, contributing to learning and teaching in higher education: Innovative practice Dementia: The international journal of social research and practice 0(0) 1–6 DOI: 10.1177/1471301216685460

Practice Publications

Russell, C. & Xu, Q. (2015) Lived Experience at the Centre of Learning. The Australian Journal of Dementia Care 4 (5), 18-19

Russell, C. & Xu, Q. (2015) Lived Experience at the Centre of Learning. The Journal of Dementia Care 23 (4), 18-19


Mackian, S. Russell. C, & McCalla, L. (2013) “Preparing to Lead” In Mackian, S. & Simons, J. Leading, Managing, Caring: Understanding leadership and management in health and social care. Open University, 1-27.

Invited Conference Presentations

Russell, C. (November, 2016) Sport, Identity and Dementia. Mental Health Issues, Cradle to Grave. Worcestershire Health & Care Trust and the University of Worcester, University of Worcester.

Russell, C. (July, 2012) What the Care Act Will Mean for Social Work? The Future of Social Work Conference. University of Gloucestershire.

Refereed conference presentations

Russell, C. (July, 2017) Enacting leisure in the context of dementia and identity: the role and significance of community leisure centres. Leisure Studies Association Annual Conference, Leeds Becket University, Leeds.

Russell, C. (June, 2017) The community leisure centre as a resource for people with dementia: explorations of individual and social identity. Poster presentation. Postgraduate Research Student Conference, University of Worcester, Worcester.

Russell, C. (June, 2017) Challenging Myths and Stereotypes – man with dementia helps me understand how to pole- vault. Images of Research Competition, University of Worcester.









Russell, C. (November, 2016) “Experts by Experience Tutors” – people with dementia contributing as tutors on a University course in the UK. Excellence in Dementia Research and Care.  26th Alzheimer Europe Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Link Group. (November, 2015) People with Dementia and Carers Contributing to Teaching. Learning from Each Other. 10th United Kingdom Dementia Congress. Telford, United Kingdom. 

Russell, C. (October, 2014) People with Dementia Contributing to Teaching and Learning at Higher Education level. Dignity and Autonomy in Dementia. 24th Alzheimer Europe Conference, Glasgow.

Russell, C. (October, 2013) Improving Practice in Dementia - involving the people who matter most. People, Policy and Practice. Research in Focus Conference, the University of Worcester

External Responsibilities

External Responsibilities

  • Football Coach, Welland Juniors Football Club, Worcestershire.
  • Member of The Football Association (England) Licenced Coaches' Club
  • Walking Football Tournament, Welland Juniors Football Club, 1st July 2017
  • Volunteer facilitator – walking for blind people, Worcestershire, 2017