Dr Bethany Simmonds
Bethany is Senior Lecturer in Sociology, with research expertise in the ageing, health and wellbeing. Particularly drawing together global, national and individual level analyses, in relation to health and social care in later life. She joined the Sociology team at the University of Portsmouth in September 2016, and was previously employed as a Research Associate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Bristol. Here she worked as a qualitative researcher, exploring topics including, falling and fracturing, delays to older people being discharged from hospital and end of life interventions. Prior to this, Bethany worked as a part-time Assistant Lecturer in Sports Sociology at the University of Chichester whilst completing her PhD in the sociology of ageing, physical activity and rurality at Southampton University. As a postgraduate, with a degree in Sociology from the University of Bath, Bethany was appointed to Research Assistant at the University of Plymouth, working on numerous projects for the Social Research and Regeneration Unit.
Bethany is teaching on a number of units on the Sociology undergraduate programme and postgraduate modules in Education and Humanities. She coordinating a core module in the first year Sociology programme entitled Research Design and Analysis, a second year option in Sociology entitled The Body: Sociological perspectives and lectures on another core first year Sociology module entitled Class, Inequalities and the Lifecourse, the latter two based on her substantive research interests. Additionally, Bethany supports with lecturing on a core Sociology first year module entitled Developing Your Sociological Imagination. The postgraduate teaching Bethany contributes to includes, supervising research on the Doctorate in Education, Masters in Research Methods, and Masters in Education modules.
Bethany is interested in ageing, health and wellbeing and central to this is the body. In her doctoral work, she explored how identities, such as, age, ethnicity, gender and ‘dis’ability related to their internal sense of self; becoming alienated or aligned with their bodies and/or how society understands via public and cultural discourses. Health and ageing are key areas in which the body changes which has led to applied postdoctoral work in health research. Insight into how policy and health systems work (or do not work) has led to an strong interest in neo-liberalism and the influence this has had in shifting responsibility for health and wellbeing from the state to the individual, especially in relation to health and social care for older people. Her soon to be published (November 2021) monograph examines ageing and the health and social care crisis. It begins with an examination of how broad structural and discursive trends, such as neoliberalism and globalisation, have influenced the financing and provision of health and social care for older people in Western countries including Germany, Sweden, and the UK. It then goes onto discuss the impact that privatisation, ‘choice’ and competition has had on service provision, including how declining social protections have impacted upon employment practices. Three in-depth UK case studies (active ageing, pre-emergency care, and end of life care) provide insight into individual’s (both older people and health care workers) experiences of navigating the risky, fragmented and complex health and social care system. Then the subsequent contemporary challenges, such as Covid-19 (first and second waves), and government responses are discussed. Finally, the book ends by showcasing examples of innovative care solutions that have been trialled in the UK, and what broader cultural and political changes are necessary to provide a more sustainable and dignified health and social care system for older people.