2016 National dementia essay competition

Winners of the 2016 National Dementia Essay Competition announced

Nursing student Teagan Bewick from Edith Cowan University (ECU) and dental science student Danica Zhan from The University of Queensland (UQ) have won the top two prizes in the 2016 National Dementia Essay Competition.

Sixty second and third-year undergraduate students answered the question: ‘How can your discipline improve the care and well-being of people with dementia?’ for the annual competition. 

Entries were received from 19 universities across Australia, with six students selected to share in a total prize pool worth $7,000.

More than 17 different fields of study were represented including occupational therapy, psychology, social work, medicine, marketing, nutrition and dietetics, paramedicine, pharmacy, biomedical science, dementia care, design and diversional therapy.

Ms Bewick’s essay titled Nurses can make a difference won first prize of $2000 in the second year category as well as the ELERA Nursing Prize of $300. Ms Zhan won first prize of $2000 in the third year category with her essay titled Don’t forget the teeth.

‘Nurses can make a difference’ discusses key nursing interventions that can enhance quality of life for people with dementia. ‘Don’t forget the teeth’ explains the link between dementia and factors that may compromise oral health and increase susceptibility to oral disease.

Runner-up prizes were also awarded to second year students Ceridwen Fitzpatrick (University of Western Australia) and Kylie Chuter (Charles Darwin University Tasmania) and third year students Pinmook Choradol (University of Queensland) and Lucy Griffin (University of Queensland). 

The essay competition is run each year as part of Dementia Awareness Month with the aim of encouraging more university students to consider a career path in dementia care.

Dementia Australia National CEO Maree McCabe said it was exciting to be involved in the competition and see the next generation of professionals inspired to play a role 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.”

Professor Richard Fleming who launched the competition in 2015 as Director of the NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centre (DTSC) said the competition is a reminder of the great range of professions that can, and do, contribute to caring for people with dementia.

“The Essay Competition goes from strength to strength. It has been wonderful to see the DTSC, Australian Journal of Dementia Care and Dementia Australia work together to capture the imaginations of the next generation of professionals.”

Dementia Australia would like to congratulate all the students involved and thank our partners the Australian Journal of Dementia Care and Dementia Training Study Centres for another fantastic competition.

Read the two first-prize winning essays here: 

Nurses can make a difference, by Teagan Bewick, Bachelor of Science (Nursing); and Don’t forget the teeth, by Danica Zhan, Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours).