My friend Jan Dewing, who died at age 61 of ovarian cancer, was the Sue Pembrey Professor of Nursing and director of the Person Centered Practice Research Center at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, where she was also director of the university’s postgraduate research school.
Jan was a leading scholar in person centered practice, with a particular focus on care services for people living with dementia; He worked with health and social care teams to ensure that care was delivered in a way that respected who the person was and not according to a clinical diagnosis. This approach had been developed by Tom Kitwood in the late 1980s and Jan built on, challenged and expanded on this work. He also brought this kind of thinking to broader health services.
She published extensively and was editor-in-chief of the magazine Nursing Philosophy as of 2020 and founding editor (2011-19) of The International Practice Development Journal, reflecting his passion for changing healthcare cultures and challenging the status quo.
Born in Gateshead to parents Joan (nee Burnside), a tailor, and John, a diesel fitter for British Rail, Jan was educated at Heathfield High School and graduated as a nurse from Gateshead School of Nursing in 1982. She received a BA from the Open University (1992), an MS in Nursing from the University of Wales (1993), and a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester (2007), as well as an MA in English Literature and Film from Harvard University. in 2013.
Jan held a variety of clinical and academic positions throughout his career. She first worked as a coronary care nurse, in Gateshead and Oxford, then moved to disability services in Oxfordshire as a senior nursing manager. From 1990 she held an Associate Professorship at Oxford Brookes University and was Hospital Director at Burford Community Hospital. She carried out the work of the Nursing Development Unit there, for which the hospital had an international reputation and, with me, she co-led the extension of this work to the 11 Oxfordshire community hospitals.
In 2002 she became a Consultant Nurse in Therapeutic Nursing and Rehabilitation at Milton Keynes, and from 2004 to 2006 she was a Senior Fellow at the Royal College of Nursing Institute, focusing on work-based learning, practice development and research with people. older people and people living with dementia She was Professor of Person Centered Research and Practice Development at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, from 2010, before taking up the chair in Edinburgh in 2015.
Anyone who encountered Jan knew that nothing would be left to chance and that everything was open to question and discussion. She was aware that many people struggled to be challenged by her, but she saw her role as an educator, critical thinker, and friend to hers as to ensure that “established truths” were not allowed to become dominant dogmas.
Jan had many colleagues and friends all over the world and was devoted to her dog, Billie. She had an infectious sense of humor and a passion for northern soul.
He is survived by his partner, Jane, his brothers, John, Tom, and Keith, his sister, Margaret, two nieces and six nephews, and two great-nephews and two great-nieces.