Sherry Dupuis, a professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, has been appointed a University Research Chair (URC), effective July 1, 2021. The University established the title to recognize faculty members for exceptional achievement in a particular field of knowledge. Recipients hold the URC for up to seven years, with the possibility of a re-nomination.
“I am extremely touched by this recognition,” Dupuis said. “My research, particularly recently, has drawn on more non-traditional methodologies and it is so wonderful to see alternative research approaches being recognised as legitimate ways of generating and representing knowledge.”
Her research program focuses on culture change in dementia and long-term care. “The pandemic has shone a light on all of the problems with the long-term care system and how very vulnerable our older adults and their care partners working in the frontlines are,” Dupuis said. “This award will allow me to focus more on this much-needed culture change work.”
Dupuis co-leads the Partnerships in Dementia Care Alliance, a large culture change initiative that seeks to improve the dementia care experience for persons with dementia, family members and staff in both long-term care and the community.
She is also a research scientist with the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging, where her interests include critical participatory action research and critical arts-based methodologies to promote personal transformation and social change.
With more than 30 years of experience working with people with dementia and their care partners, Dupuis is changing the way we think about dementia and dementia care in Canada, including how we think about leisure and the arts in long-term care settings. She combines her research with theatre and other art forms to highlight the assumptions and misunderstandings that many people have about dementia, and expose inhumane practices and policies that exist in the health-care system.
Dupuis, alongside other health researchers, helped develop ‘Cracked: New Light on Dementia,’ an original research-based play that follows persons with dementia and their families on their unique journeys, from diagnosis to their new lives in long-term care. In 2018, the film version of the play was released and premiered in Toronto. The team is currently working on a web experience based on themes explored in the play as a way to deepen learning of these themes.
As an arts-based researcher, Dupuis also contributed to the release of the research-based documentary ‘Music is Life,’ which premiered on World Alzheimer’s Awareness Day in 2020. The film was created by a team of researchers, film makers, and musicians. It critiques the arts as therapy focus in dementia care and highlights the benefits of musical engagement among a community living with dementia at the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy in Toronto an arts-based academy grounded in relational caring philosophy.
Dupuis is the first member of the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies to receive this designation. Sue Horton, David Hammond and Scott Leatherdale from the School of Public Health and Health Systems are also current Chair holders in the Faculty of Health. A full list of current and past Chairs may be found here.