Grand designs for developing dementia services

Having worked in nursing, policing and the housing sector, April Dobson brings a great deal of experience to her new post of head of dementia innovation at older people’s housing charity the Abbeyfield Society. Here, she talks to Sophie Blakemore about what inspires her every day in her role and about her hopes for the future of care

Having worked in nursing, policing and the housing sector, April Dobson brings a great deal of experience to her new post of head of dementia innovation at older people’s housing charity the Abbeyfield Society. Here, she talks to Sophie Blakemore about what inspires her every day in her role and about her hopes for the future of care.

Abstract

Compassion for others and a desire to be fair have been the guiding lights through April Dobson’s eclectic professional life.

In her 35-year career she has gained qualifications and experience in nursing, policing and housing, all of which have stood her in good stead for her current role as head of dementia innovation at charitable housing organisation the Abbeyfield Society.

Her role is strategic rather than hands-on, and involves keeping up with current academic thinking and ensuring services meet the needs of people living with dementia in the charity’s houses and care homes, supported by a panel of dementia advisers and a group of Abbeyfield residents with dementia.

‘My career to date has been incredibly varied but the thread that runs through all of my previous roles is a sense of fairness and compassion for people in general,’ she says.

Ms Dobson spent four years as a Metropolitan Police officer from 1980-84 before changing tack to pursue nursing training. However, after training as a nurse at St Luke’s Hospital in Guildford, now the Royal Surrey County Hospital, and qualifying in 1986, she realised nursing was not the direction she wanted her career to take.

‘Although I didn’t pursue nursing, I saw my training as a starting point rather than my ultimate aim and I was aware that this training would stand me in good stead for whatever I did in the future. It was good grounding,’ she says.

So she became a medical sales representative before moving into the housing sector. From 2004 Ms Dobson spent 11 years working for a national provider of older people’s housing, culminating in her role as an extra care housing manager specialising in developing plans to support residents with dementia.

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This article was first published in print under the original title 'Grand designs' in Nursing Older People: volume 27, issue 10

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