Professor Debbie Tolson delivered the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice’s inaugural Annual Celebration Lecture at the University’s Paisley Campus on 1st November 2017.
Professor Tolson, who is Director of Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice (ASCPP) and Assistant Dean (Research and Enterprise) of the University’s School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery, delivered an address entitled ‘Listening, Learning and Leading: Advancing Dementia Practice’.
The Annual Celebration Lecture honours the outstanding contribution of a person or persons to the work of ASCPP. The inaugural lecture was dedicated to two people; Henry and Anne Rankin who have together made a sustained and outstanding contribution to dementia education.
As a newly retired police officer in his mid-fifties, Henry was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Henry is a member of the Scottish Dementia Working Group, campaigning with others who have dementia to uphold the rights and enhance the lives of all people experiencing dementia. In this role, he went from strength to strength, going on to chair the national group for some years. Anne is involved in many areas of work promoting involvement and helping others understand the perspectives of family members.
Both Henry and Anne are activists and educationalists on the national and international stage, raising awareness, influencing policy, challenging stereotypes and providing hope for countless others who have dementia and the families, friends and professionals who support them. They are particularly respected because it is clear that they reflect their message to others in the way they live their own lives.
Professor Tolson’s lecture addressed the fact that to advance dementia care we need to listen carefully to the both the loud and quiet voices. Henry and Anne Rankin have spoken many times about their experiences; they have challenged, inspired, and sometimes troubled, those who are listening. As well as listening there is a need to review and refresh approaches to learning and invest in both practice based research and practitioner education research. In addition, to drive the change agenda and achieve effective delivery there is a need to strengthen strategic and professional leadership capabilities and capacity.
Professor Tolson drew on recent research, innovative pedagogy and reflections on prudent dementia policy, she illustrated the importance of listening to individuals affected by dementia and their family and of the essential contribution of experience based approaches to learning and research involvement needed to propel advances in practice and improve experiences of care.
The event also saw Henry and Anne Rankin being presented with a UWS Celebration Medal, which recognises those who have inspired the University in its scholarship, studies or in some way have made a demonstrable impact on the way UWS, and others, respond to dementia.
The event also showcased and celebrated the successes to date of the partnership between UWS and Alzheimer Scotland. It featured a number of short presentations by colleagues on the partnership and previous collaborative projects, culminating in the Celebration Lecture.
Professor Debbie Tolson said: “Both Henry and Anne Rankin are truly inspirational individuals, who have made a sustained and outstanding contribution to dementia education, and I was delighted and honoured to have delivered the first Annual Celebration Lecture.
“It was great to be able to recognise the remarkable contribution of Henry and Anne Rankin to our Centre and thank them for the inspiration and motivation they afford each and every one of us as we endeavour to ensure no one faces dementia alone.”
Dementia is the biggest health and social care challenge faced by society today. There are around 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and around 3,200 are under the age of 65. By the year 2020 there will be more than 1 million people living with dementia in the UK. Alzheimer Scotland is passionate that nobody should face dementia alone.
Professor Craig Mahoney, UWS Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said: “At UWS we are committed to making an important and lasting contribution to society and our collaborative work with Alzheimer Scotland impacts positively on those living, and caring for a loved one with, dementia. I am immensely proud of the Centre and the University was privileged to be able to mark the significant contribution of Henry and Anne Rankin who are truly positive examples for us to follow.”
The University is a leader in the field in the Scottish higher education sector for dementia-related teaching and research. The Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at UWS provides a high quality environment for applied research, education and enterprise. It is a centre of excellence, advancing dementia policy and practice through education and applied research in Scotland and beyond.
This inaugural event was a celebration of the close partnership between UWS and Alzheimer Scotland. UWS and Alzheimer Scotland recently signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement and this annual event came about thanks to this formal agreement.
Henry Simmons, Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said: “Henry and Anne Rankin have both influenced the dementia policy and practice landscape in Scotland in recent years and their commitment and dedication to help improve the lives of people living with dementia and their families and carers has been remarkable. I am delighted that UWS recognised their joint efforts in such a significant way through this honour and the award of this Celebration Medal.”