UOW Media Release: First Dementia Enabling University

See the Media  Release below from the University of Wollongong,  by Elise Pitt. I am thrilled to be a part of this innovative and exciting project.

 Equipping students with the skills needed to manage dementia 

“Pilot project to help the next generation of professionals tackle the growing issue of dementia in Australia.   

A pilot project to equip the next generation of professionals with the skills needed to address the growing issue of dementia is underway at UOW.

The Dementia Enabling University Strategy (DEUS) aims to equip students studying a range of disciplines including law, engineering, psychology, media and business with the skills needed to address the growing challenge of dementia, a disease which affects 350,000 Australians, a figure that will rise to one million by 2050.

Professor Richard Fleming, Director of the NSW/ACT Dementia Training and Study Centre at UOW, is leading the strategy in conjunction with UOW dementia expert Dr Lyn Phillipson.

“There is a pressing need to engage the intelligence and skills of the next generation of professionals to address the challenges faced by people living with dementia and those caring for them,” Professor Fleming said.

“We need to create new forms of infrastructure, treatment, care, service delivery, design and communication that will foster an inclusive community to meet one of the major challenges of the 21st century.”

As part of the DEUS pilot study, the project team is working with academics across UOW to determine how and where dementia-specific content may fit within existing courses, for example in the form of guest lectures, internships or placements and project-based opportunities for students to better understand the ‘real-world’ issues faced by people with dementia.

A number of project activities have already taken place. Earlier this month author, academic and dementia advocate Kate Swaffer, who was diagnosed with younger onset dementia at just 49, gave a guest lecture to journalism students on how dementia is portrayed in the media.

Ms Swaffer, who is also studying a PhD at UOW, is part of the DEUS leadership team.

“Involving people with dementia in this project is a major step forward in reducing the isolation, stigma and discrimination, which are still the salient features of the lived experience of dementia,” she said.

“I hope DEUS takes dementia beyond the medicalisation we currently face, to a new level of care and support as we engage and educate students in dementia generally, and to see how their own disciplines can ensure independence, autonomy and the human rights and disability rights of people with dementia are met.”

Other dementia-specific content that is being developed by Dr Linda Steele includes a new elective within the Bachelor of Laws that will explore the relationship between the complex and at times contradictory roles of law in the lives of people with disabilities, including dementia.

In addition, as part of the Bachelor of Social Sciences Dean’s Scholar program, Dr Jenny Atchison will support students to complete a module on leadership and Dementia and their role as future social scientists in a changing world where leadership is required.

Engineering students will also take part in a dementia-related project and solution-based design placements with funding to establish ‘design studios’ to improve the knowledge and skills of future engineers so they can design appropriately for people with dementia.

Professor Fleming said he looked forward to many more opportunities to incorporate dementia-specific content into UOW courses and to inspire a new generation to work and research in areas which will enable people living with dementia.”

To read more about the project, see this recent article published in the Australian Journal of Dementia Care:

DTSCs aim to create Australia’s first ‘dementia enabling’ university

Richard Fleming, Lyn Phillipson, Kate Swaffer and Kara Cappetta report on an ambitious pilot project to develop Australia’s first ‘dementia enabling university’, at the University of Wollongong, NSW, where the aim is to inspire and equip students from a range of disciplines to address the growing challenge of dementia.

Follow the link for the full article…

15 thoughts on “UOW Media Release: First Dementia Enabling University

  1. Kate, great steps forward! Good on them, and good on you, again. Did this get a write up in any enewsletter published by AA or the states? I’ll try to share it now anyway.


  2. Pingback: UOW Media Release: First Dementia Enabling University | uncover820

  3. Hi Kate well done. Just st to let you know at the university of Salford in Greater Manchester we have an Institue of dementia where people with dementia and academics come together. We work like you to help all students whatever course they are on to understand how it is to live with dementia. They help us and we help them. If somebody is designing a product they will come and ask us what we think. Believe me they do get an honest answer. The students are very good they also help out at events whether it’s the Christmas party that they have on Christmas Day paid for by the university or any events we have to promote awareness and understanding of dementia. Perhaps they could share ideas that’s the way for everybody in the world to understand about how we who have dementia can and should be included in everything, without the stigma.


      • We do get paid they asked us what we wanted it is no use me and my husband being paid with money as we would have to fill in a self assessment tax return as it would be added to our retirement pension and would be taxed so we can use the facilities at the university
        Instead. That’s suits us better. However I would do it for free if it made people understand we are living well with what we have got and not suffering.


  4. Brilliant – fantastic concept. Great to hear the ground swell you are already creating. Best wishes as you go forward


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