In The Spotlight – Dr Claire Copeland

Tell us a little about your job

I’m a Consultant Geriatrician – my day job is in stroke but I have a keen interest in delirium and medical education.

My clinical work is varied and never dull.  I can start the day in the Emergency Department assessing a person with an acute stroke for thrombolysis.  Then it’s back to the ward to see my patients and catch up with the staff there.  I also have clinics, relatives to see and assessments to carry out for patients who are very frail and those who may have experienced a stroke.

In the last 6 months I’ve taken on the role of Clinical Director for Ageing and Health.  It’s a shift away from the clinical work with the aim of influencing and shaping services for older people in Forth Valley.

Ageing and Health is sometimes seen as a less glamorous specialty – what made you opt for this?

Many reasons really but the main one is to advocate on behalf of older people for consistent high quality care and standards. That includes the full spectrum of ageing from the frail and incapacitated to those living well but who happen to be ‘old’. Aside from that I love their chat – they tell great stories and it’s a privilege to listen to them.

You also specialise in the treatment of delirium, what progress have you made with treatment?

The main thing about delirium is early recognition and assessment.  The symptoms, changes and underlying causes of delirium are hugely complex and not well understood so trying to develop specific treatments is a long way off.  Often there are many different things driving the delirium so good interdisciplinary, holistic care is key.

We know that at any one time around 1 in 5 people in hospital have a delirium which is associated with an increased mortality so it’s vital that all healthcare professionals are trained in the assessment and management of delirium.

You Tweet as @Sparklystar 55 – is there a story behind this?

When I first registered my twitter handle I had no clue how to use Twitter.  I have a thing for sparkle and glitter so it seemed a good idea to use that.  I remember my colleague and I were trying to tweet at a British Geriatrics Conference ten years ago but we found out that we were just tweeting each other so decided to abandon it!

It didn’t occur to me to change it when I started tweeting more ‘professionally’.   People know me as that now so it’s kind of stuck.  I did think about changing it to my actual name but to be honest it’s not as memorable….

What book are you reading at the moment and why?

The Library Book by Susan Orlean. It takes you through an account of the huge fire that destroyed much of the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986.  Sounds a little dry but it also goes into the history of libraries across the world and the role they play. It’s fascinating.

Libraries are a special place for me.  From early childhood they were a place that opened up new worlds and allowed my imagination to take flight.  They fed my curiosity and were a safe place in which to take refuge when the outside world failed to make sense at times.

Are you a MasterChef or a takeaway aficionado?

I like cooking and baking and I usually put on music to sing along to – much to the despair of my family!

What makes you laugh and cry?

My daughter – she’s the light in my life.

If you had an unlimited budget where would you travel to?

Space.  Of course that’s predicated as NASA and others are making advances to the point where it would only take hours to travel to the end of universe.  How amazing would that be to see all those stars and visit different planets.

What would you tell your 16 year old self?

Slow down and have more fun.

Glass half full or glass half empty?

Half full of course!

Greatest wish?

Nothing specific. I am grateful every day for everything I have so to wish for more seems selfish.  Perhaps for people to better understand each other and their situations.  There’d be more happiness and less angst in the world if we all did that.