Professor Dawn Brooker, Director of the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester, is transforming the lives of people with dementia through her research. 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.”
She qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1984 and pioneered cutting edge practice in person-centred dementia care within the NHS, completing her PhD whilst working as a full-time clinician. She established the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester in 2009. The team is now recognised internationally as a leading authority in person-centred care.
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.”