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Denise de Waal

Full Time PhD in Dementia Care, Doctoral Training Centre



Denise de Waal
  • From Netherlands
  • Part of first cohort at Doctorial Training Centre in the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies
  • Project: Supporting family carers to care for relatives living with dementia and health problems
  • Supervisors: Professor Murna Downs, Dr Michael Heasman and Professor Neil Small

I started my studies in 2010 at the University of Utrecht studying Cultural Anthropology. During this study my passion for Cultural Anthropology and its research methods grew, especially after conducting anthropological fieldwork in Ghana. Upon completing a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology I decided to broaden my knowledge and study a Master's of Political Sciences in Antwerp. Using the skills I gained during my anthropological research, I produced a Master thesis which was well received. During this time I became an admirer of qualitative methods and the way anthropology uses a holistic view to build understanding.  

My interest for dementia care stemmed from my mother. She works on a ward for people with dementia at the local nursing home. She talked a lot about her job at home and I became very interested in what she did. I asked her if there was a summer job on her ward and within the next coming months I worked alongside her. I spent consecutive summers working at the ward gaining a deep insight into dementia care and the way it affects people living with it and their relatives, friends and broader community. I began to wonder how we can improve the way we deal with dementia and gain a better understanding of the influence it has on broader society.

I intend to use my background in Anthropology and qualitative research skills to further the understanding of dementia care using a Medical Anthropological perspective. My research project will look in depth into supporting family carers to care for relatives living with dementia and health problems. The research project will make a contribution to improving the lives of people with dementia and their relatives. By using anthropological methods I want to gain a holistic view on how dementia influences the person with dementia and its relatives so we can get a better insight in the challenges they face and how to support them through it.

I choose to study at the University of Bradford because of its international reputation of person centered care and services research. It has many year of experience and knowledge within the field of dementia care. I also really like the multidisciplinary character of its Centre for Applied Dementia Studies. The multidisciplinary aspect enables me to fit in well with my anthropological background. Finally, I would like to contribute to its fundamental aim to make a difference to the lives of people with dementia.