Dr Tanja Križaj: exploring occupational science and older adults

Dr Tanja Križaj completed a PhD in Health Sciences (Occupational Therapy) in 2017. Originally from Slovenia, Tanja now works as Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at the University of Plymouth.

Tanja's research

Project: An exploration of Slovenian older people’s occupations and the influence of transition into a care home on their occupational engagement.


My research contributes new knowledge about what older Slovenians like to do in their everyday life and how the transition into a care home influences their most meaningful everyday activities.

The most exciting element of my project was to spend a period of time in a care home environment which enabled me to immerse myself into everyday life of older residents living there, trying to see the world from their perspective.

The exploration of my participants’ experiences brought to light that everything people do in their everyday life is heavily informed by the culture, communities and places they belong to which forms an important part of their identity. Whilst a particular activity may be very meaningful in one place, it can completely lose its meaning in another place. 

Since completing my research, I went home to Slovenia (a place part of me still belongs to) and engaged in a variety of meaningful activities with family and friends. I also enjoyed reflecting on the past few years and feel grateful for new experiences and insights.


“Choose a topic you know you will still feel passionate about after six years of studies. I feel lucky that I still do.”

Choosing Plymouth


I started my journey with the University as a distance-learning MSc student, decided to do my PhD here and also became one of the lecturers. Although the process of balancing between work and PhD responsibilities was at times challenging, I always felt supported by my colleagues and friends and I think that a supportive professional and personal environment significantly contributes to the successful outcome.

I definitely would recommend undertaking research at Plymouth. I know that every individual’s journey is different, however Plymouth offers a supportive environment to undertake a PhD.

What I found very helpful was a variety of skill development courses which helped me with developing my research skills, but I’m well aware this is an ongoing, never-ending process. That is probably why I like research. The sky is the limit. 

Walt Disney said: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” I believe that.


Follow in Tanja's footsteps at Plymouth

The University of Plymouth offers a range of postgraduate research degrees across all areas of our world leading research.

As a postgraduate research student, you will join a vibrant, supportive and forward-thinking community, that is committed to meeting global challenges in creative and imaginative ways. 


View our social care research area