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Lifetime achievement award for University of Hull dementia expert

One of the region’s most esteemed research psychologists and an expert in dementia care has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award by the British Psychological Society.

Professor Esme Moniz-Cook, Emeritus Professor (Psychology, Ageing and Dementia Care) at the University of Hull has worked with people, families, care staff and communities in Hull since 1987, providing both cutting-edge research as well as a sensitive and empathetic approach to patient care.

Every year the British Psychological Society practice board's awards recognise the outstanding personal achievements of those who have made significant contributions to psychological knowledge and practice. The lifetime achievement award recognises and celebrates unusually significant and sustained contributions in a career as a Chartered practitioner of applied psychology.

Professor Moniz-Cook said: “I am delighted to receive this award in recognition of the work I have enjoyed with my colleagues, who have with me collaborated with older people and their families to manage the consequences of having a dementia. I care passionately about older people whose lives have been affected by dementia and their families and friends and will continue remain active in working alongside them wherever possible.”

Since 2020, Professor Moniz-Cook has focused on legacy work through translating evidence-based knowledge into practice and mentoring practitioners, applied researchers and clinical dementia networks across a number of disciplines locally, nationally and internationally.

Having returned to her earlier PhD studies and the related large scale applied research programmes that followed, Professor Moniz-Cook is currently collaborating on a British Psychological Society/Division of Clinical Psychology project on practice guidelines and toolkits to update work on reducing distress in dementia. This aspires to help practitioners in targeting their support to avoid minimise the use of antipsychotic drugs in dementia care.

Looking back over her clinical career, Professor Moniz-Cook said:

“When I began working with groups of people with dementia at a day hospital in 1987, I was struck by the insidious negative effects of the double stigma of age and dementia, which fuelled fear and hopelessness in families.

“Engaging positively with people with dementia, I learned much about their rich personal lives and assets, life in Hull and its cultural histories. In contrast their families remained socially isolated, distressed at the perceived ‘loss of mind’ in their relative and fearing for their own sanity and the future. ”


Esme Moniz-Cook_new

Professor Esme Moniz-Cook, Emeritus Professor at the University of Hull

Professor Moniz-Cook’s work to counteract fear and stigma associated with dementia began with establishing an NHS multidisciplinary primary care collaborative memory clinic for older people (1991); later extending to a social care drop-In memory innovation which received the BUPA care prize (2004).

A King’s Fund/Department of Health – Dementia Care Environments award ‘Enhancing post-diagnostic recovery in older people with dementia and their families at a Memory Clinic’ stimulated an arts-based programme co-produced by families attending the clinic and NHS staff (2010). This worked towards neutralising stigma at the time of diagnosis through a transformed built environment of the Hull Memory Clinic from its previous ‘hospital look’ to an open plan welcoming space where people could participate or contribute to planning creative social activities. Learnings taken forward by a family now underpin some of the work of a charity, Butterflies, which collaborates with dementia projects at the University of Hull.

Professor Moniz-Cook said: “Through developing the Hull Memory Clinic in collaboration with GPs, we were able to counteract stigma, manage fear and better support families.”

The clinic alleviated family burden and reduced breakdown of care at home. Working with families and staff in care homes, Professor Moniz-Cook and colleagues successfully used individualised formulated psychosocial and communication strategies to address health and psychosocial needs and thus reduce distress in people with dementia.

Professor Moniz-Cook said: “Our work over three decades in Hull showed us that good person centred care was achieved through psychologically informed ‘memory experts’ in dementia care engaging with and maintaining relationships with families and care home staff. This often required experts to conduct brief 6 -12 month checks on the health and wellbeing of the person with dementia as well as on the needs of those providing support.

“The double effects of ageism and stigma continue to undermine timely support in dementia care, despite our knowledge on what psychosocial care works for many people with dementia and their supporters. People with dementia are all too often discharged from specialist memory services, only to emerge when they or their families can no longer cope, when care at home often breaks down.

“Practitioners with expertise and their subtle but important ongoing relationships with people affected by dementia and their families are the key to timely psychosocial care. They are essential within the dementia pathway of care.”

Career highlights for Professor Moniz-Cook are detailed below:

* Working with networks of practitioners and researchers in the Yorkshire region, nationally and internationally, over three decades Professor Moniz-Cook has led or collaborated on several national and international dementia care applied research programmes such as on social inclusion, rehabilitation, personalised ‘behavior support’ care and asset-based approaches to intervention and outcome measurement.

* Working with people, families, care staff and communities across trajectory of dementia care in Hull, Professor Moniz-Cook was awarded the NHS England Leadership Academy: Quality Champion/Innovator of the Year (2014) Watch here.

* Founder chair of the prestigious clinical academic international group INTERDEM with an EU award (1997-1999) ‘Early Detection and Psychosocial Rehabilitation to Maintain Quality of Life in Dementia’, Professor Moniz-Cook remains active on its Board. This multi-professional international group continues to collaborate on high quality cutting edge applied dementia care research programmes. The organisation hosts more than 240 clinical academic researchers from 23 countries, and an academy of more than 200 PhD and early career researchers.

Professor Moniz-Cook became interested in psychology during her A level years In Kenya. She studied at Leeds University (BSc Hons), at Cardiff (Clinical Psychology), at University of Wales, Bangor (PhD -Dementia) and joined the University of Hull as a Senior Lecturer in 1996.

The British Psychological Society is a registered charity which acts as the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK, and is responsible for the promotion of excellence and ethical practice in the science, education, and application of psychology.

As a society it supports and enhances the development and application of psychology for the greater public good, setting high standards for research, education and knowledge, as well as disseminating knowledge to increase public awareness.

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