Senior lecturer Erika Geser-Engleitner made valuable contacts on RUN-EU Research Mission in Ireland, among other things with the help of a bicycle.

RUN-EU not only offers many opportunities for students - employees also benefit from the alliance: for example, Erika Geser-Engleitner, senior lecturer in the Department of Social Work & Health and member of staff in the research group Empirical Social Sciences at FHV, undertook a four-week Research Mission at the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) in Ireland in autumn 2022. On site, she explored how elderly people in rural Limerick manage their everyday lives, which support systems they use, and how the care systems differ from those in Austria and Vorarlberg. Erika strengthened her research networks and also contributed to teaching in the Master's Programme Community Development at TUS. 

Research Mission about the elderly in rural Ireland 

Erika chose to stay in a cottage during her Research Mission to be able to connect to elderly people in the County Limerick and to understand the meaning of living in a very rural area. For almost all distances, she used a bicycle, which was not always easy: the roads were very narrow and yet cars sped past her, and in a single day she could sometimes experience all four seasons weather-wise. In short: In Ireland, it is not common to travel by bike (yet). Nevertheless, Erika's courage paid off - she often heard: "Oh, you are brave, you ride a bike!" This was the perfect start for a conversation with people from her envisaged target group. In addition to personal conversations with elderly people, the researcher visited various facilities for the elderly, also for her to understand the political system in Ireland that governs the services. She validated the results with the TUS colleagues who helped her to interpret cultural specificities correctly. In general, the colleagues at TUS were a valuable support for Erika, and the cooperation that has begun in teaching and research projects is to be intensified in the future. In spring 2023, a colleague from TUS will come to Vorarlberg for his Research Mission in order to intensify the contacts.   

Review of the Research Mission 

Looking back on her research mission, Erika Geser-Engleitner states: "I have been doing research in the field of care and support systems for elderly people for over 20 years. For me, it was a gift to dive deep into another system for a month and to enjoy researching. Projects like Men's Sheds (a project against loneliness for older men), the trust of older people in neighbourhood help, as well as the expectation for help from one's own children who do not live locally, touched me deeply." She found the exchange with colleagues at TUS and the people in Ireland very valuable. Erika motivates other RUN-EU staff members to also take the chance and carry out a Research Mission: "The effort is small for the wonderful possibilities it provides.”

More information on RUN-EU Research Missions is available here – or via e-mail at "Always up to date" with the RUN-EU Newsletter: Subscribe here.