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National Dementia Essay Competition winners

University students from nursing and dental science have taken out the two top prizes in the 2016 National Dementia Essay Competition.

Prizes were awarded to three second-year and three third-year undergraduate students, with a special ELERA Nursing Prize awarded for the best essay submitted by a nursing student. Students were invited to write an essay explaining ‘How can your discipline improve the care and well-being of people with dementia?’

The winners share a prize pool of more than $7000. All entrants and the schools of the winning students also receive a one-year subscription to the Australian Journal of Dementia Care (AJDC).

Teagan Bewick
Teagan Bewick

Teagan Bewick, a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) student from Edith Cowan University, WA

Danica Zhan
Danica Zhan

won first prize of $2000 in the second-year category for her essay titled Nurses can make a difference. Teagan also won the $300 ELERA Nursing Prize (see separate story). Danica Zhan, Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours), University of Queensland, won first prize of $2000 in the third-year category for her essay titled Don’t forget the teeth.

Teagan’s essay discusses key nursing interventions that can enhance quality of life for people with dementia, concluding that nurses offer a unique contribution as they provide a majority of the personal daily treatment requirements and embrace a holistic, person-centred care model. Danica’s essay explains the link between dementia and factors that may compromise oral health and increase susceptibility to oral disease, and the essential role of dentists and dental auxiliaries in maintaining oral health in people with dementia.

The essay competition was run by Australia’s Dementia Training Study Centres (DTSCs), with support from Alzheimer’s Australia and the AJDC, with the aim of encouraging more university students to consider a career path in dementia care.

This year’s competition attracted entries from 19 universities from every State and Territory, representing 17 different fields of study, including occupational therapy, psychology, social work, medicine, marketing, nutrition and dietetics, paramedicine, pharmacy, biomedical science, dementia care, design and diversional therapy.

The other prize winners are:

Second year:

ceridwen-fitzpatrickCeridwen Fitzpatrick, Bachelor of Arts (Psychological Anthropology), University of Western Australia (second place, $1000) for Personhood and dementia: psychological anthropology and our understanding of dementia.




kylie-chuterKylie Chuter, Bachelor of Nursing, Charles Darwin University, Tasmania (third prize $500), for Leading conversations about dementia: creatively guiding the person experiencing dementia.




Third year:

pinmook-choradolPinmook Choradol, Bachelor of Oral Health, University of Queensland (second prize $1000) for Oral health therapists: helping hands to improve the care and well-being of people with dementia.




lucy-griffinLucy Griffin, Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours), University of Queensland (third prize $500), for More than a shell.




“Every year the essay competition reminds me of the great range of professions that can, and do, contribute to caring for people with dementia,” said Professor Richard Fleming, who launched the competition in 2015 as Director of the NSW/ACT DTSC.

“This year we had entries from 17 different disciplines. I am looking forward to the time when students of all disciplines in every university are asked to think about what their contribution could be. The Essay Competition goes from strength to strength. It has been wonderful to see the DTSCs, AJDC and Alzheimer’s Australia work together to capture the imaginations of the next generation of professionals.”

Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO Maree McCabe said it was exciting to be involved in this competition and see the next generation of professionals be inspired to be involved in dementia care in their related disciplines.

“Following a diagnosis of dementia and with the right care and support people can live well and independently in the community,” Ms McCabe said. “The students of today are the people who will be providing that support across a range of professions into the future. It is an honour to have the opportunity to acknowledge our future care partners and I look forward to the advances that their contribution will bring to the care and treatment for people living with dementia.”


Read the two first-prize winning essays here:

Nurses can make a difference, by Teagan Bewick, Bachelor of Science (Nursing), Edith Cowan University, WA, first prize of $2000 in the second-year category and the ELERA Nursing Prize ($300); and Don’t forget the teeth, by Danica Zhan, Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours), University of Queensland, first prize ($2000) in the third-year category.

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