IDEAL project

Aiming for an IDEAL world for everyone affected by dementia

IDEAL is a research project based at the University of Exeter, an Alzheimer's Society Centre of Excellence. The centres are our biggest single investments into research to improve dementia care.

IDEAL (Improving the experience of dementia and enhancing active life) aims to understand what affects the ability of people to live well with dementia. 

Alzheimer’s Society has awarded funding so that researchers on the IDEAL project can continue their work for 3 more years. This extension will provide the opportunity to learn from the experiences of a wider range of people affected by dementia. This will include black, Asian and minority ethnic communities as well as people with advanced dementia.

What is the latest from IDEAL?

This week Alzheimer's Society and the University of Exeter brought together people with dementia, researchers, medical professionals, policy makers and service managers. The event shared the latest findings from the IDEAL project around living well with dementia and shaped the next steps of the research.

The University of Exeter research team have been working closely with over 1,500 people with dementia and over 1,200 family members or friends. They want to learn how we can support people with dementia to live well.

As we learn more about what can help people affected by dementia to live well we need to ensure these findings are made a reality. This could mean a change in policy or clinical practice.

Professor Linda Clare, leading the IDEAL programme, explained what living well with dementia meant to people with the condition. The top answers included several things that many of us might take for granted - getting out and about, being fit and active and seeing friends.

We also heard about the impact that managing psychological health has on the ability to live well. Services that tackle depression, loneliness and people’s self-esteem have the potential to make the biggest impact in helping people to live well.

IDEAL project board

Working in partnership with people affected by dementia

One of the most inspiring speakers was Keith Oliver who has a diagnosis of dementia. He’s an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador and has been involved in IDEAL since it started 5 years ago.

Keith highlighted the importance of research to him personally. He finds research gives him hope for the future and aims to ‘give the 850,000 people with dementia the same ammunition (that he has) to live well with dementia’.

Every aspect of the IDEAL programme is guided by people affected by dementia. Alongside Keith, there is a group of people living with dementia and carers, known as the ‘Action on Living Well: asking you’ (ALWAYS) group. The group provide advice to researchers based on their personal experiences, skills and expertise. They have helped shape the project, kept the researchers on track and are instrumental in sharing results.

Alzheimer’s Society and IDEAL

Jeremy Hughes CEO of Alzheimer’s Society has reiterated our commitment to the IDEAL programme. We have seen it has already begun to show ‘what good looks like in dementia care’.

We are all aware of the importance of making dementia care IDEAL for people living with dementia. We must ensure the evidence gathered by this project is used as a powerful message to influence health care policy. This will help to create positive, tangible change in the day-to-day lives of people affected by dementia.

Learn more about the IDEAL project

Find out more

You can catch up on more of the research, quotes and photos about the project on Twitter by following the hashtag #IDEALProg2018

You can also send any questions to the Research Translation team at [email protected]

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Having read this article I am surprised that the Alzheimer's Society is funding such a project. Surely over the time that the Society has existed enough information should have been gathered to help people with dementia to live well. What are the Alzheimer's Support Groups/Activity Groups for if not to, in some way, help people with dementia live well? It seems to me that this kind of research is gilding the lily and will provide little or no extra benefit to people living with dementia. The research may have been done well but to what practical end. I hope I am wrong!
It reminds me somewhat of projects I worked on where more time was spent writing about the project rather than the development and implementation of the project.

Hi Ronald, thanks for getting in touch. Although we know a lot about supporting people with dementia to live well and independently, the condition various hugely and it’s vital we have high quality research to drive changes in policy and practice. Without this evidence it’s very difficult to make change to the health and social care system that will benefit everyone affected by dementia. We also have limited knowledge about how best to support people with dementia from different ethnic groups which IDEAL is aiming to understand as well. We’ll share further results from the study when they are published.

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