The Power of Dreams

Dream experiences present opportunities for people to achieve, learn, grow and accomplish in some way. Dreams are also ways in which children‘s lives can be enriched in a way most appropriate to the child and their condition. Jayne Galinsky PhD

Fulfilling a child's personal dream provides an unforgettable experience and brings extraordinary happiness and sheer joy. We see that every day and it is very evident from the Dream Stories.

We also know that the magic of a dream goes way beyond that experience. A dream fulfilled provides enduring and treasured memories and an enhanced sense of well-being that can empower families. We call it the "Power of Dreams" and it is poignantly expressed in the many hundreds of testimonies that we continue to receive from dream children and their families.

What is the Power of Dreams Study?

The Power of Dreams Study is a collaborative research project between Dreams Come True and the University of Stirling. This piece of research is being done because we think it is important to understand more about the children, young people and families that we work with, and the impact that a dream has on their lives.

Dreams Come True fulfil dreams for any child or young person with a life limiting or long term condition. We recognise the benefits of this, not just for the child but for siblings, parents and carers as a result of the letters, photos and telephone calls we receive, telling us how important these experiences are. These anecdotal reports are fantastic, but we want to know more, and so have asked researchers from the University of Stirling to help us conduct a rigorous, objective piece of research.

This is an important project for us, because we know that the holidays, trips and experiences are meaningful, but this study looks to go beyond the actual dream days and explore the anticipation of the dream, the emotions and feelings involved and the creation of memories as a result. We're interested in lots of different things - why a particular dream might have been chosen, if the child or young person's siblings were involved in any way, or if the child or young person experiencing the dream felt any different before or afterwards. We'd like to know what is most important to these children, young people and families and with the help of experienced researchers, find out why.

We hope that knowing some more about the families we work with, and what their dreams have meant to them, will help us better understand the children, young people and families that we work with. We are also interested to know more about how our families experiences of dream fulfilment fit into their child's pathway of care - so that we can think about the best ways that we provide our service. A study like this has never been done within the UK so it is really special and important. As a charity we believe it is really important to stay ahead of recent developments within children's palliative care, and engage with the public with evidence from formal research.

Keep updated on the progress of the Power of Dreams Study by following Jayne's Blog.

How will the meaning of dream fulfilment be explored?

We're going to be using something called Grounded Theory to conduct this piece of research. This particular research approach is used, particularly when not much is yet known about a particular subject, as it is open and allows participants within the research (in our case families) to tell their stories, without restriction. We don't know what we will find out, but we do believe that by improving our understanding of dream fulfilment, and the place of Dreams Come True within a child or young person's care pathway, we will find out what it really means to have a dream come true and how and why it matters.

Goals of the study

Who conducted the research?

Jayne Galinsky will be carrying out the research for us, as part of her PhD project. Jayne studied Psychology in Glasgow, and went on to do her Masters in Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health in London. She has since worked in Richard House Children's Hospice, and at the Institute of Child Health. She is now based within the Cancer Care Research Centre at the University of Stirling.

Dr Emma France is supervising the project. Emma is a researcher and lecturer based at the Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals Research Unit within the University of Stirling. She is interested in long-term conditions, experiences of health and illness and families.

Dr Liz Forbat is also supervising the project. Liz is a reader and co-director of the Cancer care Research Centre, also within the University of Stirling. Liz's research interests lie in cancer, adult palliative care, children's palliative care and non-malignant conditions.


In 2012, we took an innovative step and sought a research partner to conduct a study of dream fulfilment in children and young people with life-threatening and long term conditions and their families. The result is the Power of Dreams: a grounded theory study by Jayne Galinsky PhD at the University of Stirling in collaboration with Dreams Come True. The Power of Dreams study was published in 2016 and categorises the impact of dream fulfilment into key themes which shed new light on the work we do.