Dementia Care Matters – Inspiring People

Let's introduce ourselves as a team. As individual people we passionately believe that 'Feelings Matter Most' in dementia care.  We aim to model ourselves how BEING person centred is at the heart of our approach to learning and developing services.

Leadership is about creating services that hold up an exciting mirror image of what dementia care can look, sound and feel like.


David Sheard - Chief Executive and Founder

Inspiring •  Emotional  • Driven

Over the last 30 years I have developed a reputation as a challenging and motivational speaker and as a leading dementia care consultant in the UK,Ireland, USA and Canada.

My main focus in speaking has been to hold up a mirror to reflect the realities of dementia care and what it really takes to 'get it'. After 15 years in health and social services in specialist dementia care posts, latterly as a General Manager-Old Age Psychiatry in an NHS Trust, I founded Dementia Care Matters in 1995. My purpose is to demonstrate that dementia care is about emotional care, and that this is no different to what we all need in life.

For over 10 years I worked as an external training consultant to Alzheimer's Society. Our beliefs and approach as a team are outlined in 5 publications which I have authored entitled the 'Feelings Matter Most' series, published by Alzheimer's Society.

I have an appointment as a Visiting Senior fellow in the School of Health and Social Care, University of Surrey and hold the Honorary degree award of Doctor of the University (DUniv).

In 2009 I worked as a Dementia Care Consultant to the BBC for the programme 'Can Gerry Robinson Fix Dementia Care Homes' believing this was the most powerful way to get the message across that dementia care could be so different.

For the last 30 years I have also been passionate, some might say obsessed, about collecting Victorian tiles.

Peter Priednieks – Director / Senior Consultant / Head of University Learning

Senior Consultant  • Reflective • Coach

 I have held a very varied work life, beginning as a Science teacher in Nottingham.In my late 20s I moved to become an RAF Officer with responsibility for training and development. This was followed by being a Training and Development Manager in industry for 13 years.

I joined Dementia Care Matters to work with David in 2000 initially as the Development Manager/Consultant of the team. I have always worked from the perspective that each of us has our own reality and need to be reached in order to realise our potential. Coming into the field of dementia care brought different aspects of my personal and work life together.

I specialise in linking Leadership and Change Management with implementing person centred care. To achieve this I draw on my experience as a Master Practitioner in NLP (Neuro - Linguistic Programming) which explores how people form their identity and view of the world.

I am known to end the day with my catchphrase which is “I need to watch a comedy!”


Helen Walton – Operations Director

Strategic • Open • Solution Focused

Whilst being a mother and running my own business I undertook a degree in Business and Management at the University of York. For many years I worked in retail, hospitality and leisure, but was looking for a new, more demanding challenge I could identify with and found it in the care sector. I began as a manager of a large domiciliary care provider in York.

I followed this with seven years as Development Manager with Alzheimer's Society's, Quality Care Team which subsequently became the Learning and Development Team. My role involved advising on the production of Alzheimer's Society's dementia care resources and training for the care sector. This included promoting the value of learning and development of care staff, working in partnership with many care providers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I've already worked extensively alongside Dementia Care Matters, particularly in the production of the 'Feelings Matter Most' series of publications.

My role in Dementia Care Matters is to assist the Directors in the strategic development of Dementia Care Matters Model of care. I provide Butterfly Project homes with design consultancy and project manage complex Butterfly Projects.

I am in my element when hosting regular gatherings of friends and family, providing food and duvets “The Waltons” style.


Daren Felgate – Consultant Trainer / Head of Learning Resources

National Perspective •  Fun • Expert Facilitator

After growing up in Liverpool and moving to London I have worked in learning and development for nearly 20 years. I began as a researcher and trainer with the charity Directory of Social Change.

In 1997 I joined the Alzheimer's Society helping to develop their care services within at that time the Care Consortium. Subsequently as Training Development Manager at Alzheimer's Society I helped to commission, develop and produce a range of publications and training resources including 'Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow' and 'Tomorrow is Another Day'. Within the Society I was involved externally in delivering training programmes and consultancy to a range of dementia care providers. The Alzheimer's Society publication 'Planning dementia care learning and development' was authored by me.

In 2008 I joined AgeCare, a charity with care homes where my role was to provide dementia care related learning and supporting the development of dementia care within AgeCare and other organisations. I joined Dementia Care Matters having worked extensively over the last 10 years alongside David and Peter in the development of their work. This has given me the opportunity to promote and train on approaches in dementia care in which I firmly believe.

I honour my roots through a lifetime passion for Liverpool football club.

Sally Knocker - Consultant Trainer / Head of Tailored Consultancy & Training                                                                                             

Playful • Energetic • Networker

 Almost my entire working life has been at a national level influencing dementia care development. I was the first National Branch Development Officer for the Alzheimer’s Society, an interesting job supporting the growth of a network of local branches and carers’ groups. My penchant for networking thrived in this role and has never stopped! 

Years before other statutory organisations were considering in-house dementia care training, I went on to work for an award winning dementia development team in a local authority. This was then an innovative role training and working alongside home care and care home workers. For the last ten years I have been a freelance dementia trainer and writer contributing nationwide to a diverse range of dementia care developments, including running education programmes for family carers.

I have a particular interest in meaningful activity in its broadest sense for people living with a dementia. Since 2002, I have worked part-time for NAPA, the National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People, initially as a project manager and then as Director of Communications.  I have written extensively on the topic, for example the Alzheimer’s Society Book of Activities (2002) and for the activities section of the SCIE Dementia Gateway website. I have run reminiscence groups with the European Reminiscence Network and an intergenerational arts project with Magic Me.

At home, I am kept busy being a chauffeur to my energetic 9 year old in her various sporting pursuits. My guilty pleasures are late night chocolate and Star Trek Voyager repeats.     


Rhiannon Davies - Consultant Trainer / Head of Development (Wales)

For more years than I care to remember, I have been qualified as a pharmacist working in hospital, community and primary care settings. My specialist interest has been mental health and my approach has always been within the realm of holistic care. Hence my interest in complementary medicine and alternative approaches to healing.

In recent years I worked with Powys Health Board medicines management team, where I took a more strategic role in improving medicines management services. In 2010/11 I led the Powys 1000 Lives Plus initiative: improving appropriate prescribing of antipsychotics for dementia, and coordinated pilot schemes involving care homes, GP practices and Older People’s Community Mental health teams. The success of this work then led on to me being given a national role, influencing working practice and policy Wales-wide.

On the basis of this, I knew I had found my passion, and early in 2013, I made the decision to give up my work as a pharmacist and focus on dementia care. Since then, on a voluntary basis, I have spearheaded developing Powys as a Dementia Supportive Community, bringing together people to share the vision and potential, then making it happen.

Joining Dementia Care Matters and working with such a dedicated group of people, sharing a common philosophy and values, is a wonderful opportunity for me to walk my talk. I feel privileged to be part of the team and look forward to wherever it takes me – physically and metaphorically!

I was born and brought up in Wales, and now live in the Brecon Beacons with my husband, son, pet pig, dogs, chickens, tortoise and various other animals. Living where I do, it will come as no surprise that I love the great outdoors and, where time permits, can be found either pottering in my garden or exploring the hills.


Gillian Brooks – Consultant Trainer

Feeling-based •  Determined • Connected 

I have over twenty years experience working with older people with a dementia - in care home settings in people's own homes and in hospital.

My early experiences were as a nursing auxiliary and care assistant. After qualifying as a social worker in 1986 I worked in a management role in a residential care home for people with a dementia.

For fourteen years I worked in Community and Hospital Social Work with Older People as a Senior Social Worker and later as an Assistant Team Manager. I have been involved with staff training, practice teaching for social work students and as an NVQ4 Assessor and continue to be registered with the General Social Care Council.

In recent years I have worked in the Voluntary Sector for Crossroads in Birmingham setting up and running a service supporting families of someone with a dementia. It was during this time that I became absorbed in dementia training and became a passionate advocate of Dementia Care Matters Model of Care with a focus on improving quality of life. In the last couple of years I worked as an independent dementia trainer joining Dementia Care Matters in the role of Consultant Trainer. It is my heartfelt belief that Feelings Matter Most in the care sector and for all of us and this is an inspiring way of reaching out to nurses and care staff.

I love to dance! I am a hanky waving, stick throwing morris dancer.

Luke Tanner - Consultant Trainer

Creative . Dedicated . Therapuetic

My first experience of being person centered was living in a Zen Buddhist Monastery in my early 20's. Within this community I recognised that my own positive sense of person-hood was cultivated and sustained through other person centered relationships. This experience is now at the heart of my professional therapy practice where I work as a dementia care therapist in residential care settings.

Over the last 10 years I developed an understanding of relationship that includes it's verbal and non-verbal dimensions through academic study and ongoing training in body psychotherapy and massage at Cambridge Body Psychotherapy Centre.

Contact with people experiencing a dementia, however, was where the real learning began and when my professional training found a real sense of purpose. In 2011 I began to collaborate with Dementia Care Matters, mental health nurses and massage therapists in order to explore the role of touch from an ethical, theoretical and clinical perspective. The result of this collaboration and hundreds of hours of therapeutic touch and massage work in dementia care was a practice development process that maximized the potential benefits of touch in dementia care.

I continue to work as a freelance dementia care therapist in dementia care homes in Sussex drawing upon a range of psycho-social approaches in order to develop a relationship matched to each person’s needs and ways of communicating.

Working therapeutically in traditional care settings I began to recognize the extent to which the social psychology of dementia contributed to the ill-being of my clients and the limits this placed upon the potential benefits of 1 to 1 therapy. In joining Dementia Care Matters in 2013 I am now able to focus on developing therapeutic cultures of care to achieve sustainable improvements in the quality of life for people living with a dementia.

As a trainer I specialize in the use of touch and non-verbal communication to enable staff to develop the relationships that are at the heart of person centered dementia care alongside facilitating and training in Dementia Care Matters Being a Star courses, Butterfly workshops and one year University recognised courses in developing person centred practice.

After a day’s work I am often found swimming in the sea off Brighton beach whatever the time of year!

Maureen Howe - Associate (Consultant Nurse & academic assessment)

I qualified as a registered nurse in 1966 and have worked with older people for the last 30 years many who are living with a dementia. I completed my working life as Dementia Champion for a care home company specialising in nurse and team modelling in dementia care. Determined to make a difference for people living with a dementia where I worked, I set out on my journey gathering up like minded people to help me achieve this. During this time I trained to become a trainer in person centred care, I undertook Dementia Care Matter's one year course "An Emotional Journey" and other training with the support of Dementia Care Matters and Alzheimer’s Society.

Since retiring from full time work I continue to train care home staff and also work as a part time lecturer for The University of the West of England. In this way I get the message about people living with a dementia to a wide audience. I am currently marking assignments for those undertaking the Person Centred Dementia Care University recognised course.  I am envious of everyone participating - I have very happy memories of the course. I am also providing Nurse Consultancy as part of the “Nurse Modelling” aspect of Dementia Care Matters Butterfly Projects.

I love gardening, cooking, spending time with family and friends and walking. I continue to be passionate about making a difference for people living with a dementia.

Sue Spinks - Associate (academic assessment)

I joined the NHS in 1990 after having an extended “career break” as a carer at home. During this time I was a volunteer fundraiser for my son’s school and was part of the management committee for several years. Since returning to work I have worked in various services in homes and in community with people with learning disabilities and Dementia. I joined the specialist psychology team in 1992 as part of a family support project and it was around this time that I started to develop my interest in Dementia as the team were carrying out a long term project which monitored for early signs of Dementia in people with Downs syndrome. I was given the task of setting up and co-ordinating health support services for those with a likely diagnosis. I currently work within the community team for people with learning disabilities which has given me the opportunity to work with a varied and different group of people with a Dementia.

Last year I was invited to talk about our work to student nurses at Surrey University. Scary stuff! I was first introduced to Dementia Care Matters work by a colleague who had initiated huge changes to what used to be a very depressing ward in an elderly care setting. The place was transformed and I wanted to find out more! I completed the “Emotional Journey” course in 2011 and have been “spreading the word” ever since. I joined the team as an academic associate last year and I am really enjoying sharing experiences and ideas with course participants.

During “time off” I am often “crewing” or catering for my son’s film company and when time allows enjoy long walks on the beach with our dog H.


Sue Heiser - Associate (academic assessment)

I qualified as a social worker in my mid thirties, after time spent in disability work as part of the Independent Living Movement of the 70s.  Since 1994 my work has focussed on older people and dementia, first leading a local authority specialist team which helped develop services and improve practice in the days when dementia care was seen as a depressing career choice. 

I’ve worked extensively alongside staff in care homes, training, mentoring and supervising staff as well as helping change the attitudes of their managers.  I spent two years as a commissioner for services for younger people with dementia and have worked freelance as a consultant to local authorities. 

For eight years prior to my retirement in September 2011, I was Head of Residential Services in Camden, responsible for four care homes, employing 200 staff.  I’ve always appreciated David’s approach and believe strongly that life in a care home can be a positive experience if the support is offered with feeling and real interest in the people who live there.  A good built environment is a bonus. 

I’ve retained links with the dementia world since retirement through various voluntary roles and love my garden and spending time with many friends.