Alzheimer's Society is the largest charitable funder of dementia care research. This year, we held the first UK Dementia Care Research Summit alongside the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Sandra Barker, a Research Network volunteer, shares her experience.
Why is care research so important?
Whilst nobody would argue with the need to find treatments and cures I am painfully aware as a former carer that life now for people living with dementia and their families can be very hard.
Services are patchy, often downright poor, with a complete lack of understanding of what would make lives better now.
Cures will come too late for many people living with dementia now but they still have lives to live and deserve for those to be as easy and happy as possible.
Looking back on the day
I was thrilled to be one of the Research Network Volunteers invited to attend. The programme was very full with themed sections featuring a number of speakers followed by round table discussions on related topics. The outcomes of the discussions will be published to inform the way forward for care research.
Attending the conference really was like being at the Dementia Care Research Oscars!
So many 'big names' and a great opportunity to meet people who until now had only been names on grant application forms.
Challenges and success
Many of us in the Research Network are frustrated that so much of the brilliant research we approve, support and monitor comes to nothing beyond academic papers when we, as people affected by dementia, need to see change and improvement now!
Our colleague, Barbara Woodward-Carlton, one of the original Research Network members, was one of the first speakers. Barbara talked about successes and challenges she had seen during the last twenty years and finished with a plea for more research to be implemented.
Care research in the limelight
There were so many interesting speakers who are clearly passionate about Care research and making life better for people affected by dementia.
I really got the impression from the researchers on my table that they in turn were thrilled to have the spotlight shining on their research as opposed to biomedical research.
They were also very complimentary and appreciative of our role within the Research Network.
So what did I take away from a very tiring day? Well there are some very clever and committed researchers out there dedicated to making life better for people affected by dementia. Five minutes for them to talk about years of work is not really enough and I could have listened to some of them all day!
And finally, it is important that Alzheimer's Society works alongside and with other organisations (as demonstrated by this summit) for the benefit of people affected by dementia. If this becomes a regular event and Anna asks you if you would like to attend...say yes (if you can)!
Funding research into dementia care
Our research, not only aims to develop new treatments but also to improve care for people living with dementia today.