How can we revolutionise dementia care research? By asking the experts

Our new Centres of Excellence will revolutionise dementia care research. Hear how from Colin Capper, Head of Research Development at Alzheimer's Society.

Today, we announce our biggest-ever single investment in dementia care research.

Our research grants of up to £2 million each will enable expert researchers to create ‘Centres of Excellence’ that focus on key priority areas within dementia care research. This is as well as boosting the number of researchers working in the dementia care field.

Colin Capper
Our Head of Research Development, Colin Capper

The importance of dementia care research

When we think of people doing dementia research, we tend to picture a person in a white coat leaning over a complicated-looking piece of equipment, working to understand the underlying causes of the condition or testing potential new drugs.

Whilst this sort of research is vital, we also need to make sure that people who are affected by dementia today are receiving the highest standard of care.

We do this by conducting care-based research, which involves gathering and generating evidence about what works well, what doesn’t and how we can overcome barriers to translating research into improved care and support.

Alzheimer’s Society recognises the importance of care research and its potential to benefit the 850,000 people living with dementia today and their families and carers. We’re the leading charity funder of dementia care research, with a third of all our research funding focusing on this area.

However, given the number of people living with dementia and the many well-documented problems with providing a good standard of care, we realise that we can do more.

This is why we’re laying the foundations for building networks of internationally recognised researchers in dementia care in the UK. We’re making major investments that will contribute a great deal towards improving care and support for people affected by dementia.

Asking the experts

There are many areas of dementia care that need to be addressed and, in order to build a focused dementia care research programme; we must understand which areas are in most need of attention.

That’s why we asked the people that know the most about which areas of research should be given the highest priority – people affected by dementia, their carers and the staff and volunteers at Alzheimer’s Society that work with them on a daily basis.

We built on the James Lind Alliance dementia care research priority setting exercise conducted in 2010. Over a three month period, we consulted with these experts to identify key priority areas to be addressed by the Centres of Excellence. We then asked dementia care researchers across the UK to submit proposals for funding that addressed these areas. Each centre could apply for a maximum of £2 million, to be invested over 5 years.

This is the most we have ever invested in a single care research programme in our nearly 40-year history.

The priority areas that were identified are:

  • Support after a diagnosis
  • Improving quality of life
  • Helping people to remain independent at home
  • Care in advanced dementia

Care researchers

Investing in care

After a lengthy and rigorous selection process, we’re delighted to announce that we’re able to establish three new Centres of Excellence across the UK.

Professor Linda Clare from the University of Exeter will continue expanding the existing IDEAL study, which aims to find out what factors determine quality of life and how to best help people live well with dementia. This includes adding the experiences of people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and people in the advanced stages of dementia.

Our second Centre of Excellence will be established at the University of Newcastle. Professor Louise Robinson will lead an expert team to understand how to help people receive better support after a diagnosis. They will examine whether receiving the support through ‘primary care’ routes such as GPs or community services will improve the support people receive. They believe this approach could reduce the so-called ‘postcode lottery,’ where access to support through secondary care services such as memory clinics can vary depending on where a person lives.

University College London will also be a site of a Centre of Excellence. Led by Dr Claudia Cooper, this work will understand how to improve independence at home by training and preparing family carers and professional care workers who make home visits to provide better care for the person affected.

Improving care for people with dementia

We’re excited at the potential that each of these Centres of Excellence hold for improving care and hope to establish further Centres over the coming years.

These Centres are an excellent example of how being united against dementia, and listening to those affected, can bring about real and lasting change through high-quality, world-leading research

Join Dementia Research

Join Dementia Research is a UK-based service that allows people to register their interest in taking part in dementia research. 

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Add your own

sounds like hot air to me ,is it only in south ? nothing happens in our area no help nothing.

one of the problems is you always show old people , you should know better , break the cycle

As a carer for my wife these past 8yrs , there are certain things that people looking after Dementia sufferers should know. One of the most common upsets is when they fall.This can have an enormous affect on the persons Dementia, and can accelerate the disease at an amazing rate.This happened to my wife, and of the 8 persons in her ward, 7 off them had fallen and the Dementia had advanced in all of them dramatically. This was put down as the shock they received when they fell.

Since when was Newcastle based in the South? Newcastle university have been involved in Dementia research for a number of years. Any research that improves the support for people after diagnosis can only be a good thing. Plus the research is to look into the postcode lottery of why some areas can access better support. Research and clinical guidelines paved the way for access to people with dementia to access medication like aricept. My mum was diagnosed with mixed dementia at 68. I strongly believe by early access to this drug the progression in her Dementia was slowed down considerably.

Sorry, but i thought that my contributions would be going to finding a cure for dementia. How wrong i was. Will have to find another charity that is doing that.

Alzheimer’s Society funds research into both finding a cure for dementia and for providing better care for today. While it is vital that we find ways to cure the condition, we also need to make sure that the 850,000 people who are living with dementia today can receive the best standard of care. This can only be achieve through high-quality care research.

We thank you for your contribution to Alzheimer’s Society’s research programme, and for your feedback.

I am currently taking 10 mgs of Donepezil daily in the morning. After 18 months, I can still continue to have good conversations with some occasional mistakes.
Is this normal? Or am I getting on better or worse than normal?
Like to know.

Hey Bernard, what's normal? You're doing fine. My husband is still on Donezepil after over 11 yrs. His medication is currently under review because there are recent definite changes across the board. Until 2017 though, he was much as you describe yourself. Bernard you are the new normal and that's OK. Enjoy the next decade (and beyond!). All the best to you. Anna

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