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Dr Verina Waights

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Profile summary

Professional biography

Verina is a Senior Lecturer in Professional HealthCare Education and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She has over 25 years experience in education and research and is the OU lead for the EU funded project DISCOVER, which aims to develop digital skills of carers’ and the older people they care for to enhance their wellbeing and social inclusion. She was also a co-investigator on the ESRC-funded seminar series: ‘Older People and Technological Inclusion, exploring technological inclusion in relation to older people's experiences of everyday life.

Previously she was a co-investigator in the Grundvig-funded OPT-in: Older People and Technological Innovations project which in collaboration with AgeUK MK, explored older people’s engagement with new technologies through play.  She has worked with Birmingham City Council UK on the EU funded (Network of European Stakeholders for Enhance User Centricity in eGovernance) scenario: building digital skills for carers.  She was also a member of the CARICT (ICT for caregivers) expert validation workshop, Brussels 2011, developing recommendations for future EU policy and research.

Verina has a broad range of experience in the development of virtual simulations and work-based practice learning , especially in using technology to enhance the student journey. She also was involved in developing the University-wide Research Skills and Assessment Scheme for doctoral students. She has supervised a number of doctoral students and been an internal examiner for the EdD programme. She currently chairs modules within both the Foundation Degree in Healthcare Practice and Pre- registration Nursing Programme.

She is a member of the project advisory board for AKTIVE: Advancing Knowledge of Telecare for Independence and Vitality in Later Life and has facilitated a number of KT Equal workshops exploring how older people can be supported to engage with technologies.  Her research focuses on older people’s use of new and emerging technologies and the role of technologies in improving their quality of life.

Recognising and rewarding excellence in engaged research

Dr Verina Waights was presented with an award by Professor Alan Bassindale (PVC Research, Scholarship and Quality) at the 2015 Engaging Research Award Scheme. The OU’s RCUK-funded Public Engagement with Research Catalyst, ‘An open research university’ Awards Scheme celebrates high-quality engaged research at the OU.

Verina leads the OU team for the EU funded project DISCOVER: developing inclusion skills for carers: bringing opportunities, values and excellence. Her role in enhancing e-inclusion through development of carers’ digital skills was ‘highly commended’ by the Award panel, who stated that the ‘The research took a participatory design approach with evidence of engagement through many stages of the lifecycle’.

Research interests

Research interests

My research centres on improving the quality of life and care of service users and carers, especially older people and those with long-term physiological conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure, neurodegenerative diseases and the physical health needs of service users with enduring mental illness. I am co-investigator on a number of research projects  with colleagues from research institutes, universities, technological companies and carer associations across Europe including Germany, Greece, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain and The Netherlands.

Recent projects  include:

DISCOVER: Digital Inclusion Skills for Carers, Bringing Opportunities, Value and Excellence


This pan-European DISCOVER for Carers project, running from April 2012 to March 2015, aims to improve the quality of life of carers and the older people they care for through  enhancing their digital skills and encouraging them to pass on these skills to the people they are caring for.  This project uses an interactive design, keeping carers at the heart of the development of the DISCOVER platform and skills zone. Focus groups with carers highlighted their wish to develop their caring and employability skills alongside developing their digital skills.  The partners are exploring embedding this platform in training for professional carers with a number of care organisations.

ESRC seminar series - Older People and Technological Inclusion: Multidisciplinary perspectives on contemporary realities and aspirations 

Website: Older People and Technological Inclusion 

Four seminars were held between April 2011 and April 2013 to explore the concept of technological inclusion in relation to older people's experiences of everyday life.  Each seminar brought together older people, researchers from a range of disciplines including Social Sciences, Computing, Arts and Design, and commercial providers of technological devices including those designed to enable older people to live independently. The first seminar was held at Bletchley Park - the historic site of code-breaking during the Second World War and home of the National Museum of Computing.

OPT-in: Older People and Technological Innovations

Website: 'OPT-in': Older People and Technological Innovations

This two-year project , which ran from April 2009 to April 2011, was supported by funding from the European Union Grundtvig Life Long Learning Programme, in collaboration with AgeUK, Milton Keynes.  It  explored different ways of helping older people to learn about new and emerging technologies. Instead of formal ‘class-room-style’ instruction, older people participating in the project  tried out new devices in the company of other older people from around Europe, with assistance from computer scientists and social scientists from the partner countries: Scotland, The Netherlands, Germany and Slovenia. Exchange visits between these countries enabled older people and project partners to share their experiences and examples of good practice.

Previous research projects include:

  • Coping strategies of the 'stretched ' generation - caring for dependent children and older relatives in the same time frame

    This project was undertaken with my research student Dr Caroline Moore, who is now a research associate at Cambridge University.

  • the role of community matrons in the well-being of people with long-term conditions from the perspectives of the patients, the matrons and their employers

    Verina was co-investigator with  Professor Shirley Reveley, Dr Caroline Holland and Dr Shelagh Sparrow o n this project supported by CETL PBPL. It explored the knowledge and skills required by community matrons and their role in the transfer of knowledge between the various stakeholders involved in the care of people with long term conditions and their carers, including the service users and carers themselves.

  • preventing age discrimination in practice

    Verina,  Dr Caroline Holland and Dr Joyce Cavaye designed and ran a series of workshops with nurses and healthcare professionals looking at professional and personal experience of age discrimination.  A pilot workshop in collaboration with RCN London led to RCN Scotland commissioning workshops in Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  These workshops built on the ‘Research on age discrimination’ (RoAD) project, whose  findings were published in the report: To Old: Older people’s accounts of discrimination, exclusion and rejection. The RoAD project was undertaken by  Bill Bytheway, Caroline Holland, Sheila Peace and Richard Ward, in association with Help the Aged.



    Tetley, J. Holland, C., Waights V. et al., (Forthcoming) 'Exploring new technologies through peer-to-peer and intergenerational engagement in informal learning', in D. Prendergast and C. Garattini (eds). Ageing and the Digital Life Course. Oxford. Berghahn Books. 

    Waights, V., Losada Duran, R., Bamidis, P. and de Graaf, H.(2013) 'Enhancing e-Inclusion through development of carers’ digital skills'  eChallenges Conference Proceedings 2013

    van der Linden J, Waights V, Rogers Y and Taylor C. (2012) ‘A blended design approach for pervasive healthcare: Bringing together users, experts and technology’Health Informatics Journal September 2012 18: 212-218

    Waights,V., Reveley, S. and Holland C. (2011) Knowing Long-term Conditions: Understanding the role and practice of the Community Matron, Final project report Oxford Regional Ethics Committee, NRES_ref-07-H0605-96

    Waights,V., Reveley, S. and Holland C. (2010) Knowing Long-term Conditions, Final project report, PBPL Paper 62

    Waights V (2008) 'Decision-making in Practice' in J. Spouse, C. Cox and M.Cook (eds.), Common Foundation Studies in Nursing 4th Edition. Elsvier

    Bassett, S., Waights, V., De Normanville, C., Brown, A., Cave, I., Lee, S., Dennis, L., Taylor, P., Eaton A., Morton, T., Moore, R., Lyndon, H. and Mitcham, L. (2007)Fitness for Practice: An assurance framework for Community Matrons and Case managers, jointly developed by the East of England Strategic Health Authority, South Central Strategic Health Authority, Sheffield Hallam University, The Open University, University of Essex and University of Leeds. Sponsored by the Department of Health and Skills for Health

    Invited lectures

    Waights, V., Losada Duran, R., Bamidis, P. and de Graaf, H.(2013) 'Enhancing e-Inclusion through development of carers’ digital skills'  eChallenges Conference 2013, Dublin 9-11 October

    Tetley, J. Holland, C. Waights, V. Hughes, J. Holland, S. and Warren, S. (2013) ‘Exploring new technologies through playful peer-to-peer engagement in informal learning’, AEA Annual Conference 2013.  Milton Keynes, 5 September

    Schuster-James, H. and  Waights, V.  (2013) ‘Communities Building Capacity – the Birmingham Living Lab: Creating pilot applications with re-use and scalability in mind’AAA Manchester 4th ENoLL Summer School 2013  Manchester28 August

    Tetley, J. Holland, C. Waights, V. Hughes, J. Holland, S. and Warren, S. (2013) ‘Exploring new technologies through peer-to-peer and intergenerational engagement in informal learning’, Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds. The 17th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Manchester, 9 August

    Tetley, J. Holland, C. Waights, V. Hughes, J. Holland, S. and Warren, S.(2013) ‘Exploring new technologies through playful peer-to-peer engagement in informal learning’, ESRC Seminar Series: How do we turn aspirations into realities? Milton Keynes, 21 June

    Waights V., Tetley J., Holland C., Hughes J., Holland S., Nederland T., Toorn J., van den Reichert M., Lis, K., Mason A., Kokol P. and Blažun H. (2011) ‘Older People and Technological Innovations: Lifelong learning, health and wellbeing’, Technology with Disabled and Older People: Business development, Building alliances and impact assessment conference, London March 2011

    Draper, J., Bottoms, R., Counihan, S., Holland, L., Kenward, L., McDonagh, L., Messenger, J. and Waights, V. (2010) ‘Recognising the potential: Maximising meaningful learning in practice settings (Symposium)’, Nurse Education Today Conference 2010, Cambridge 7–9 September

    Counihan S., Draper J., Holland L., Kenward L., McDonagh L., Messenger J. and Waights, V (2010). ‘’What is the difference that makes a difference? in Recognising the Potential: Maximising meaningful learning in practice settings’ (Symposium)’ Nurse Education Tomorrow conference 2010 ,  Cambridge  7-9 September

    Messenger J. and Waights V. (2010)Breaking circuits in Recognising the Potential: Maximising meaningful learning in practice settings (Symposium)’,Nurse Education Tomorrow  conference 2013 Cambridge September

    Tetley, J. Holland, C. Hughes, J. Waights, V. Holland, S. (2010) ‘Older People and Technological Innovations: Lifelong Learning and Applications for Health and Wellbeing’, British Society of Gerontology 39th annual conference, Brunel,July

Teaching interests


Teaching Interests

Verina's teaching focuses primarily on work-based learning for health care assistants within the Foundation Degree for Heathcare Practice and the Pre-registration Nursing Programme.   She has participated in the development of these programmes including chairing a number of modules across this provision, both during production of the module materials and in presentation. She is an experienced author and led  development of the first cohesive programme-wide assessment strategy.


e-learning in professional healthcare education

Her e-learning research and scholarship embraces the challenge of engaging with new technologies, whilst constrained by professional standards, through developing innovative modes of e-learning and investigating their effectiveness to develop and assess healthcare skills

Recent projects include the role and efficacy of:

  • virtual simulations and web-based tools in developing nursing skills and exploring practice;
  • interactive computer-marked assignments in formative and summative assessment.

PhD Skills and Assessment

Verina has also had a key role in developing doctoral students’ transferable skills, including development of the leading-edge PhD Skills and Assessment Scheme, the first in the UK, which was termed an ‘exemplar of good practice’ (QAA, 2005) and disseminated nationally through UKGrad, now VITAE. She is lead judge for the annual Doctoral student Poster Competition, which gives students experience in disseminating and discussing their research with the public. 

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Ageing and Biographical Studies (CABS)CentreFaculty of Health and Social Care


Externally funded projects

Lakes Estate Healthy Homes Pilot Project
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator10 Jan 201430 Jun 2016Milton Keynes Council

Background The Lakes estate in Bletchley was built between 1968 and 1975 and by the time of this project many properties required refurbishment. Parts of the estate, comprising council-owned properties, were refurbished by Milton Keynes Council to create whole house efficiency through works to roofs, windows, doors, cladding and boiler replacements as required. At the same time, the public health team wanted to plan interventions based on the estate’s health needs, and information gathered form the effects of the refurbishments was to inform this planning. The OU team was required to: • Help to identify a purposive sample of households to represent a range of households on the estate. • Carry out a qualitative assessment of health and wellbeing, including people’s views about their housing and its impact upon their health, among a sample of households on the estate whose properties were to undergo refurbishment from early 2014. • Ascertain people’s needs and wants in relation to public health support services and improvements, and their preferences for delivery of these services. • Assess the extent of community capacity and social capital among Lakes estate residents. • Help to identify and then train and support volunteers from the estate to act as interviewers. • Revisit the households to undertake qualitative re-assessment of their health and wellbeing once the renovation works were complete, at least sic months after the completion of work to learn about the longer-term impact. • Report regularly to the reference group and produce reports on findings and recommendations at each stage. The research We aimed for a purposive sample of around 50 households, working with the public health team to to ensure representation from the different communities/social and ethnic groups/family structures living on the estate, as far as possible. We developed a semi-structured questionnaire to use with the households within face-to-face interviews in their homes, drawing on well established qualitative survey questions where possible to ensure that the validity of the questionnaire was commensurate with other comparable tools. The focus was on whole households, involving children as well as adults in groups interviews, where appropriate. We worked through the neighbourhood regeneration and neighbourhood engagement teams already working with residents of the Lakes estate who managed relationships with residents during the refurbishment. The timing of the research meant that stage one (baseline) interviews were carried out by the contracted OU team, but for the second stage (follow-up interviews), a small team of residents from the Lakes estate was recruited, trained and supported to take part in the interviews. They were paid and worked in pairs, usually comprising one academic and one community researcher.


Age-Friendly Standards Around ICT (2019)
Waights, Verina; Holland, Caroline; Huchet, Estelle and Fisk, Malcolm
International Journal of Standardization Research, 17, Article 1(2)

A blended design approach for pervasive healthcare: bringing together users, experts and technology (2012)
van der Linden, Janet; Rogers, Yvonne; Waights, Verina and Taylor, Crissman
Health Informatics Journal, 18(3) (pp. 212-218)

Aberrant cortical synaptic plasticity and dopaminergic dysfunction in a mouse model of huntington's disease (2006-10-01)
Cummings, Damian M.; Milnerwood, Austen J.; Dallerac, Glenn M.; Waights, Verina; Brown, Jacki Y.; Vatsavayai, Sarat C.; Hirst, Mark C. and Murphy, Kerry P. S. J.
Human Molecular Genetics, 15(19) (pp. 2856-2868)

Exploring New Technologies through Playful Peer-to-Peer Engagement in Informal Learning (2015)
Tetley, Josie; Holland, Caroline; Waights, Verina; Hughes, Jonathan; Holland, Simon and Warren, Stephanie
In: Prendergast, David and Garattini, Chiara eds. Aging and the Digital Life Course. Life Course, Culture and Aging: Global Transformations (pp. 39-62)
ISBN : 978-1-78238-691-9 | Publisher : Berghahn | Published : New York/Oxford

Decision-making in practice (2008-01)
Waights, Verina
In: Spouse, Jenny; Cook, Mike and Cox, Carol eds. Common Foundation Studies in Nursing (pp. 375-400)
ISBN : 978 0 443 10154 0 | Publisher : Churchill Livingstone | Published : London, UK

Developing your career (2006)
Waights, Verina
In: Potter, Stephen ed. Doing Postgraduate research (pp. 276-302)
ISBN : 1-4129-2405-7 | Publisher : Sage publications | Published : UK

Technologies for care – the imperative for upskilling carers (2018-03-13)
Waights, Verina; Bamidis, Panos and Almeida, Rosa
In : Using Technologies for Social Care The Northern Ireland Assembly Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series 7 (KESS) 2017-18 (13 Mar 2018, The Northern Ireland Assembly)

Older people & technological innovations-lifelong, learning and applications for health and wellbeing (2010-10)
Tetley, Josie; Holland, Caroline; Nederland, Trud; Toorn, Jessica van den; Reichert, Monika; Lis, Katharina; Mason, Anne; Kokol, Peter; Blazun, Helena; Hughes, Jonathan; Waights, Verina and Holland, Simon
In : Fourth European Nursing Congress Older Persons: the Future of Care. (4-7 Oct 2010, Rotterdam)

Recognising the potential: maximising meaningful learning in practice settings (2010-09-08)
Messenger, Julie; Waights, Verina; McDonagh, Lin; Kenward, Linda; Bottoms, Rosemary; Draper, Janet; Counihan, Sheila and Holland, Lesley
In : Networking in healthcare education (7-9 Sep 2010, Cambridge, UK) (p 156)

Breaking circuits (2010-09)
Messenger, Julie and Waights, Verina
In : Nurse Education Tomorrow (7-9 Sep 2009, Cambridge, UK)

Older people and technological innovations: lifelong learning and applications for health and wellbeing (2010-07)
Tetley, Josephine; Holland, Caroline; Hughes, Jonathan; Waights, Verina and Holland, Simon
In : 39th British Society of Gerontology Annual Conference (6-8 Jul 2010, Brunel University, Uxbridge)

Assessing decision-making in healthcare practice using a web-based interactive tool (2009-09)
Waights, Verina
In : Association for Medical Education in Europe (29 Aug - 02 Sep 2009, Malaga Spain)

Older people and technological innovations (2009-09)
Tetley, Josie; Hughes, Jonathan; Holland, Caroline and Waights, Verina
In : British Society of Gerontology 38th Annual Conference - Culture Diversity and Ageing (2-4 Sep- 2009, Bristol, UK)

Waights V. (2009) Assessing learning for healthcare practice using an on-line interactive tool (2009-09)
Waights, Verina
In : Nurse Education Today Conference (8-10 Sep 2009, Cambridge, UK)

Using virtual environments to simulate practice (2008)
Waights, Verina
In : 5th Asian Pacific Medical Education Conference: Medical Education in a Flat World (24-28 Jan 2008, Singapore)

Quality assurance framework for case managers and community matrons (2007)
Taylor, Paul; Dennis, Lucy and Waights, Verina
In : Managing Long term Conditions 2007 (2007, The International Centre Telford UK)

Dopamine restores cortical plasticity in a mouse model of Huntington's disease (2005)
Cummings, Damian M.; Milner, Austen J.; Dallerac, Glenn M.; Vatsavayai, Sarat C.; Brown, Jackie Y.; Waights, Verina; Hirst, Mark C. and Murphy, Kerry P. S. J.
In : 18th National Meeting of British Neuroscience Association (3-6 Apr 2005, Brighton, UK)

Fitness to practice: an assurance framework for community matrons and case managers (2007-09)
Bassett, Sally; Waights, Verina; De Normanville, Claire; Brown, Alan; Cave, Ian; Lee, Sarah; Dennis, Lucy; Taylor, Paul; Eaton, Anne; Morton, Tracey; Moore, Ros; Lyndon, Helen and Mitcham, Liz
NHS East of England, UK.