A University of Worcester academic who has spent almost 40 years working to make life better for people living with dementia, has been named among the top 100 ‘lifesavers’ working in UK universities.
Professor Dawn Brooker, Director of the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester, is transforming the lives of people with dementia, and their families and carers through her research, and that of her team.
As a child, she was very close to her grandfather who had dementia and it was her family’s reaction to his death that spurred her on to devote her career to helping those with dementia.
“When he died suddenly all my aunties said that it was ‘a blessing, him being how he was’. I was furious. They obviously didn’t know how nice our life was,” she recalls. “That sense of fury at the dismissal of someone’s life simply because they have dementia has fired my work as a clinical psychologist and as a researcher ever since.”
Professor Brooker established the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester in 2009 – 10 years ago. The team is now recognised internationally as a leading authority in person-centred care.
Professor Brooker has been named in Universities UK’s Nation’s Lifesavers list, published today. The list recognises individuals and groups in universities whose work is making a life-changing difference to the health and wellbeing of the nation.
They have been named as part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on families, communities and wider society.
Professor Brooker said: “I’m really honoured to be included in this list. I am incredibly proud of the work of my whole team at Worcester, whose research, education and training has helped so many people living with dementia, and their families and carers, to live more fulfilled lives.”
Professor Brooker’s team works in partnership with those directly affected by dementia, such as Keith Oliver, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 55, and who has just published a book called Dear Alzheimer’s. In a letter to Dawn, Keith said: “Your contribution to the world in which I find myself is phenomenal and you are helping significantly to make a difference to people’s lives.”
Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said: “When people think of lifesavers they understandably tend to focus on the dedication and skill of our doctors, nurses, carers, and paramedics – many of whom are trained at universities. Every day, up and down the country, universities are also working on innovations to transform and save lives. Research taking place in universities is finding solutions to so many of the health and wellbeing issues we care about and the causes that matter.
“By proudly working in partnership with charities, the NHS and healthcare organisations, universities are responsible for some of our biggest health breakthroughs and in revolutionising the delivery of care.
“This campaign is a chance to bring to life the wonderful and often unexpected work going on every day in our universities and to celebrate some of the people working to make a life-changing difference to us all.”