Doctoral Training Centres

9. Bradford Doctoral Training Centre

Understanding and supporting transitions in dementia care

Lead supervisors: Professor Murna Downs, Professor Jan Oyebode, Professor Alison Blenkinsopp, Professor Gerry Armitage
Additional supervisors: Professor Graham Stokes, Dr David Alldred, Dr Sarah Smith, Dr Danielle Jones, Dr Mel Cooper, Dr Andrea Capstick
Patient and public involvement leads: Mrs Barbara Woodward-Carlton and Dr Andrea Capstick
Grant type: Doctoral Training Centre
Amount: £450,000.

The Bradford Doctoral Training Centre has been supported in part by a generous donation from Malcolm Joyce in honour of his wife, Jean Joyce. 

What is a Doctoral Training Centre?

Alzheimer's Society Doctoral Training Centres (DTC) aim to create a cluster of PhD students and clinical fellows working on themed area of dementia research. In addition to generating new knowledge on the theme, the DTCs will also provide support and training to develop the next generation of dementia research leaders.

Why did we support this? Comments from our Research Network: 

'A down-to-earth proposal by experts who clearly appreciate the problems of dementia care and are dedicated to coming up with practical improvements.'   

This is a much needed focus on family carers and movement of people with dementia. There is a great deal to be learned, and this research could help many people working in the field.'

'It is extremely well constructed with realistic goals which will advance the care for many with a very positive impact.'

What do we already know?

Living with dementia entails changes in the levels and locations of care. At these transitions in care, people with dementia and their families are at risk of reduced well-being. Yet we have relatively little research on how best to improve them.

Many transitions in the level of care occur when the person with dementia is living at home with support from family. Two of the most challenging transitions for carers to support are changes in the behaviour of the person with dementia, and changes in thehealth of the person with dementia. Knowing more about how to prepare, train or advise family carers on these transitions would make a difference to quality of life of both the person with dementia and their relatives.

People affected by dementia are particularly vulnerable at times of change in location of care, and family carers continue to be affected by their relative's moves from home to hospital or care home, and any subsequent moves. Transitions in place of care are points of potential instability where risks to quality of care and quality of life occur. Knowing more about how to ensure effective communication between health and social care professionals, patients and families and how to manage medicines better across boundaries will reduce the risk of untoward incidents and avoidable harm.

What will the students in this DTC investigate?

All of the projects are based around transitions in care:

Some students are studying the transition between care homes and hospitals, including designing a system for reducing medication errors and developing best practices for nurses.

There are also studies into the transition between home and hospital. One PhD student will be aiming to design a support package to enhance communication between people with dementia, family carers and health professionals during hospital admission. Another is looking at the role of the community pharmacy in providing support for people with dementia after discharge from hospital.

Others are studying transitions in levels of care and how best to support family carers. This includes developing interventions to support families in caring for a relative when their health changes, managing behavioural aspects of dementia and one project specifically looking at the difficulties faced by South Asian families.

How will this benefit people affected by dementia?

This research programme will identify approaches to improving transitions for people affected by dementia, the most promising of which can be further tested and rolled out to the general population.

The aim is that the doctorates will produce tangible benefits for people with dementia and their family members. These include a guide for family carers on supporting distressed behaviour; a coaching intervention for carers; information specifically for South Asian families; an improved quality of life for people with dementia living at home; more co-ordinated transitions between locations; fewer medicines errors; and training and education packages for nurses, allied health professionals and pharmacists.