Dr Kate Frazer 

Lecturer, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems

My research focuses on reducing inequalities in health, seeking to understand priority populations including people experiencing homelessness, people living with hepatitis C, Travellers, older people, and people living with enduring mental illness. 

My first step towards the Innovation Fellowship was completing the Innovation Academy’s Professional Diploma in Creativity and Innovation for Education in 2019. I found the experience life-affirming, and the collegiality and open approach to active and engaged learning were transformative.  

In my Fellowship, I set out to have time to reflect, breathe and be curious about active learning and embedding design thinking further in my approach to education; to consider storytelling and explore methods of engagement that are fun and pragmatic.  Most of all, I wanted to have time to stop and listen.

As part of my Fellowship, I developed a discovery module on Understanding Homelessness with other Schools in UCD. The transdisciplinary module, the first of its kind in Ireland, aims to help students understand the context, characteristics and impact of homelessness. Students will identify problem areas and develop ideas for potential solutions bringing their interests and discipline-specific knowledge. The module also examines current solutions from countries that report successful reductions in homelessness and imagines solutions required in Ireland.

Recent data from the Department of Housing recorded 6,023 adults as being homeless during August 2021. The figures show that 2,189 children are also homeless. Of course, the numbers only tell one part of the story. I am passionate about my transdisciplinary focus on homelessness because so much more needs to happen to support and value the lives of children, families and adults experiencing homelessness. Anyone can find themselves homeless, and when this happens, the system is fragmented and challenging without a date identifying when homelessness will end.  The module will launch in Spring 2022, the 20 initial places are filled, and another 40 places will open for first-year students in January. 

“The small, unexpected outcomes of the Fellowship have been as enriching as the highlights.”

As part of my Fellowship, I also established a five-country network as a Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) to consider approaches to reduce smoking and secondhand smoke exposure in homes. The network is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Irish Research Council and I’ve collaborated with Co PI in Scotland Dr Rachel O’Donnell.  The other countries included in the network are Northern Ireland, England and Wales. 

I’ve learned about different members’ work and their respective approaches for reducing smoking in homes through the network. We know that smoking rates are reducing in Ireland; however, higher rates persist for those living in deprivation. We need to understand how to support people to create smoke-free homes, with a particular interest in the health risks of smoking to pregnant women and children. I’ve connected with policymakers and practitioners across Ireland, including midwives engaged in smoking cessation, and I continue to support them virtually. 

Highlights of my Fellowship included establishing contact with Professor Ruth Malone, a global leader in tobacco control research and education (when I called her she told me she always makes time to speak to nurses); collaborating with Dr Negin Fouladi, University of Maryland, and Visiting Academic Geary Institute, and securing a U21 (Universitas 21) Researcher Resilience Sustainability funding award.  

The Fellowship’s small, less visible, and sometimes unexpected outcomes have been as enriching as the highlights. Finding podcasts to use in my classes next semester and engage with students; refining my webinar skills; broadening my network and meeting with new people to discuss a shared goal; taking the time to listen and learn; reading; completing a course on photo voice methods, finding courage in the face of challenges and of course engaging with our network of Innovation Fellows – a positive anchor that sustained and energised me throughout the Fellowship.

I feel happy to have experienced a fun and creative adventure.  I wish it could continue, and I’m grateful for the friendships. I will miss the regular meet-ups and encouraging conversations.  

Dr Kate Frazer was one of 11 Convene Innovation Fellows to participate in the inaugural Convene Fellowship in 2021 at UCD Innovation Academy. Convene is a collaboration between UCD Innovation Academy and TU Dublin funded under Human Capital Initiative Pillar III. HCI seeks, among other aims, to promote innovative methods of teaching and delivery.