Dr Jennifer Slape on Achieving the V-C Award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence

Thesis: ‘They are still people: An ethnographic investigation into a reconfiguration of personhood practice in residential dementia care’



It is a great honour to win the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence.


My thesis focused on residential dementia care, specifically the extent to which people with dementia are valued and respected as persons, and, likewise, the staff members who provide their care.

Winning this Award has strengthened the importance of constructive dialogue around personhood in dementia care and added credibility to the arguments and discussions presented in my thesis.

My research will be used to advocate for a more balanced approach to resourcing in dementia care settings which better supports each person’s physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Fundamentally, the outcomes of this research highlight the responsibilities of the broader societal community to address issues around the stigmas and culture of aged care.

I chose to undertake a PhD on dementia care because I was passionate about improving the wellbeing of people with dementia, and also as a means of acknowledging the dedication and compassion of many aged care staff members.
My PhD journey was demanding and challenging, yet incredibly rewarding, and on a personal note, I am proud that I completed the journey and gave myself opportunities to learn so much.
And on a professional note, I am honoured to have made a solid contribution to the body of work advocating for improved dementia care practices – a strength which is enhanced by this Award.

My passion for improving dementia care remains a driving force as I take my research into the future of the aged care industry and the broader community.
I am grateful to those who supported me along this journey, and to Flinders University for providing the opportunity. I encourage anyone considering the undertaking of a PhD to do so.
Your passion will drive you, and support is available every step of the way.

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