Care home director Graeme Hendry will use his Masters degree from Stirling to help improve the care of hundreds of older people in Scotland, after being inspired by his late father.
Graduating with a Master of Science in Dementia Studies after three years of part-time study, Graeme hopes the expertise he has gained during his third degree will allow him to participate fully with other professionals to improve care for older people in care homes.
Graeme said: “My dad took me to the Iris Murdoch Building at Stirling during a visit I made to Scotland in 2010. I was working in America at the time. I was immediately impressed by the facilities and the focus on innovative dementia care. After my dad passed away, it was time for me to come home and become involved in the business my dad had started.
“The Dementia Studies course at Stirling – with its world-renowned reputation, great facilities and location – was perfect for me. It allowed me to keep my day job, while gaining the knowledge I required to be able to converse with other professionals involved in care for older people, and to gain a fuller understanding of what life is like for people living with dementia.”
As Director of Avondale Care Scotland, Graeme learned to juggle competing priorities, with great skill.
He said: “I have a full-time job operating four care homes in Scotland’s Central Belt, which certainly kept me busy throughout my studies. Our business, Avondale Care Scotland, was started 25 years ago by my dad, and driving it forward is a big responsibility.
“I am also married, with an eight-year-old son, Cameron. It is difficult to balance the demands of work and family with study, but early in life I learnt there is no substitute for hard work, and that it does pay off eventually. I decided to work every evening after finishing work, allowing me some free time during the weekend to relax and spend time with my family.”
Twenty years after attaining his last degree, the father-of-one worked hard to get the most out of the academic experience.
Graeme said: “I put extra effort into completing the last assignments of the course. I really tried to understand what the lecturers were looking for in an academic assignment and – acting on the guidance given to me by the lecturers – I achieved a distinction in both assignments in the last module. I was delighted with that result and it helped me achieve an overall merit in the course.”
Reflecting on his time at university, Graeme added: “Anyone considering the Dementia Studies course should go for it! It is a great course and you can stop after one, two or three years, depending on what is happening in your life. The lecturers are very helpful and the online format worked for me. I also made some friends – including one in Canada!
“Studying at Stirling was a very rewarding experience and I feel fortunate to have learnt alongside researchers from the Dementia Services Development Centre, who are at the forefront of developing new ways of caring for people with dementia.”
Dr Jane Robertson, lecturer in Dementia Studies at the University, said: “With a passion to improve the quality of life for people living in residential care, Graeme has shown dedication to developing his knowledge of dementia to lead change and improve practice. Despite the challenges of returning to study as a mature student, Graeme has thrived on the dementia studies course and shown a passion for developing both his knowledge of dementia and his academic skills.
“He has been an active and valued member of our online international learning community and I’m delighted that Graeme has achieved a merit award. Along with our other students who graduate today, we wish him every continued success.”
Graeme is now considering furthering his Stirling studies through a PhD Dementia Studies or a BSc Nursing.