2017 College Recipient, College of Healthcare Sciences
Denise Craig is a senior psychologist with the Far North Queensland Aged Care Assessment Team and Memory Service (Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service).
Ms Craig works tirelessly as an advocate to empower those with dementia to get on with the business of living. She pursues systemic changes to help improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their families. She also educates others, and through this, promotes the rich perspectives of people living with dementia.
Ms Craig inspires those around her to strive towards a standard of excellence in their work with people with dementia. She actively pursues further study and participates in national, international and state-wide professional forums on dementia care.
As a healthcare professional, Ms Craig consistently demonstrates a high level of clinical skill, professionalism, compassion and care that is considered an inspiration to those in her professional and community network.
She displays leadership at work where she has taken a clinical lead in developing an enhanced model of service delivery for the Cairns Memory Clinic. She also contributes to the best practice service and policy development for people with dementia through her participation in a range of committees and networks.
One of Ms Craig’s achievements was to be the first non-physician appointed as a co-clinical chair of Queensland Health’s Statewide Dementia Clinical Network, at a time when these networks were traditionally chaired by senior doctors. She chaired several of the network’s projects that have produced practical outcomes including the Young Onset Dementia Diagnostic Guide and the Dementia Enablement Guide, which seek to encourage GPs to consider a multi-disciplinary approach to post-diagnostic support. The approach is now being trialled at sites across Australia.
She holds positions with the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Clinical Council and Queensland Health’s Clinical Senate, where her focus has been enhancing the care that is provided in order to maximise quality of life for health service consumers and their families.
In her personal time, Ms Craig has developed and administers an online support network for people with young onset dementia, which reaches a global audience and promotes opportunities for people experiencing the condition to connect with others. The network has inspired consumers, health professionals, and organisations by breaking down some of the myths about what people with dementia are able to do.
Ms Craig has been recognised nationally for her work in young onset dementia and was the recipient of the prestigious Patsy Bjerregaard Award for Excellence in Patient Care.
Denise Craig graduated from James Cook University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours.