Dr Sondra Butterworth began her professional career nursing. She then moved into education, psychology, and finally research. These skills, combined with the learning from her PhD studies, led her to become the founder of RareQoL. This is a social enterprise based in north Wales. RareQoL has areas of work include:
- Rare Community Network: aimed at rare advocates.
- EDIRA: Equality Diversity and Inclusive Research Association.
- Wellbeing activities with funding from the National Lottery to develop a bilingual wellbeing newsletter.
- RareQoL Learning: developing a range of learning resources. RareQoL will be supporting university student to gain work experience with their Rare Community Network.
Narrative-based medicine and intersectionality.
Sondra’s PhD thesis was based on exploring the relationship between quality of life (QOL) and social support. This was a mixed method case study of adults living with rare genetic skin conditions.The study concluded that health and social care practitioners, policymakers and commissioners have to make room for QOL perspectives that come from the patient. These are wounded storytellers whose narratives are subjective but are spoken through illness. Sondra has found that the intersecting relationship between the personal characteristics of patient creates challenging lived experiences and often leads to health inequalities. Their collective experiences can influence the direction of their diagnostic journey and must be front and centre of any rare disease implementation plans in a post COVID era.Sondra promotes the use of creative approaches to research, which has focused inclusive research with diverse community and public involvement. Her work has led her to values which are based on the principles of community psychology, empowerment, inclusion and interactive bio-psycho-social models of care and support.