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Dr Sarah Cope Memorial Fund

Sarah Cope's legacy is the Caring for Older People Excellence (COPE) Award

Dr Sarah Cope was an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Canberra for just over two years before her life was tragically cut short by cancer.

A vibrant woman, admired by those around her, she was a champion for the vulnerable with a particular passion for improving ageing and dementia care.

A callistemon tree planted in October 2019 stands as a living reminder of her bright spirit, passion and boundless energy.

Sarah was immensely proud to be a member of the UC nursing team, she taught in the area of mental health and her research specialised in caring for older people. Sarah dedicated her career in nursing to enhancing the care of older people in our society, notably through her work as Dementia Practice Lead at Uniting.

During her short time at UC, Sarah made an enormous impact on staff and students, not only within the nursing but across the wider team. Her passion for teaching touched the hearts and minds of students and this continues to inspire nursing students.

Sarah will long be remembered for her whirlwind energy, sense of humour and infectious laugh. She was a lover of hot rod cars, horse riding, vintage fashion, Doc Marten boots, tattoos, family, and her husband, Ian. Her signature colour was bright red and her colleagues often wear red in her remembrance.

In legacy to Sarah, the Caring for Older People Excellence (COPE) Award was created and is presented every year during the Annual COPE Memorial Lecture. The award recognises an undergraduate nursing student who demonstrates enthusiasm for providing evidence-informed individualised care with older people.

The fund will also support the Gerontological Nursing Competencies (GNC's) program to support early-career nurses developing a career working with older people. The GNC's are a shared program with the University of Wollongong and are supported by the ACT Chief Nurse.

Right now, working with older people in a home care setting – to support them and their loved ones – is deeply rewarding, and I enjoy knowing that I can help support them to remain in the home environment longer with the friends, family and support networks they depend on to feel at home and safe.

Mary-Kate Adhikari | 2023 COPE Award recipient

I was over the moon to be recognised by my peers and teachers and to be acknowledged for the work that I've been trying to do towards aged care. We need to ensure care is person-centred — valuing the person for who they are and respecting their goals and wishes.

Nerissa Askelin | 2022 COPE Award recipient

I'm very proud to have this connection with Sarah, even though I wasn’t fortunate enough to work with her. If I can come anywhere close to being the nurse she was, I would be very, very happy.

Lachlan Stewart | 2021 COPE Award recipient

It is such an honour to win the COPE award for 2020. I feel so proud to share in Dr Sarah Cope's enthusiasm, passion and excellence in caring for older people.

Jana Pavlich | 2020 COPE Award recipient

Dr Sarah Cope presenting on Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia

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