Beulah Shadrache has successfully completed the MSc Advanced Dementia Studies early this year. In this blog, Beulah shares her thoughts about the course and her hopes for the future.
I’ve worked in the health and social sector for over 16 years, in various roles, from care worker to company director. During this time, I’ve observed various changes in policies and strategies to improve the outcomes for people needing care services, and more specifically, dementia care. Unfortunately, many of these proposed changes in how services should be improved upon have had very little impact on the execution thereof. This observation motivated me to take action to become part of the solution. When I found out about the MSc in Advanced Dementia Studies offered by the University of Bradford, I felt it was exactly what I needed to be empowered to do so. Upon discovering that the university’s Centre of Applied Dementia Studies is renowned for its reputation in ground-breaking research and practice in the area of dementia care and with its commitment to change the status quo of dementia care by developing leaders in this area, it confirmed to me that it would be the best fit for me… and I was not disappointed!
With the support of an outstanding team of tutors, I was able to navigate my way through the modules successfully via distance learning. What struck me most about the tutors was that, though they are all very accomplished and celebrated as professionals and leaders in the area of dementia studies, their humility and commitment to students were selfless. Though I am sure that they have substantial workloads to manage, not once, during my three years of study, did I not get the support and guidance I needed – timely responses to emails and one-to-one sessions whenever required.
My final dissertation, which involved a service evaluation, was focussed on cognitive stimulation. This is an area of psychosocial interventions that I have a very keen interest in, as, with a growing evidence-base of the effectiveness of cognitive stimulation in the area of enhanced wellbeing and quality of life, I certainly want to incorporate this intervention in my practice. More recently, I had the privilege of completing a course in Maintenance Cognitive Stimulation. This was very empowering in increasing my knowledge and skills in this area and I look forward to applying the principles and techniques I have acquired.
However, the current pandemic presented us with a great opportunity to reflect on how well we are doing in meeting the needs of people living with dementia. To our dismay, from personal experiences to news reports and studies undertaken during the pandemic, it became more and more evident that a gaping chasm lies between the needs of people living with dementia and the current ways of doing things. The time has come to acknowledge the gaps in dementia care provision and to take action to create revolutionary new ways of serving people living with dementia. To this end, I have adopted a new vision for residential care provision for people living with dementia. It is my long-term goal to realise this vision and I would like to do so five years from now. I will make my ideas public once I have successfully completed the first phase of my vision.
Whilst pursuing my master’s degree, I realised how much I enjoyed doing research with the aim of making a difference. Writing my dissertation has also rekindled the enjoyment of writing I’ve previously had. So, currently I am in the process of developing a PhD proposal to submit to the university. Research shows that stigma is still very closely associated with dementia and for this reason I have decided to focus my doctoral studies on how stigma can be reduced through education. I now feel as if I have stepped into my niche area where I can make a significant difference. As, with 18 years’ experience as a teacher and lecturer (prior to moving to health and social care), and more than 10 years’ experience of delivering training in the health and social care sector, I believe that the time has come for me to use my teaching skills to empower others about dementia to dispel the notion that dementia is something to be ashamed about.
Written by Beulah Shadrache