Ruby Ali-Strayton is a dedicated member of our Research Network with personal experience of caring for a family member with dementia. Ruby visited clinical psychologist, Dr Naoko Kishita, to discuss her research which aims to support carers of people with dementia.
The University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich has a strong tradition of research in the field of dementia. Studies in relation to the experience of carers have been increasing over the years.
One of the leaders in this field at UEA is clinical psychologist Dr Naoko Kishita. She is currently running a study to develop a psychological therapy geared specifically towards carers.
Dr Kishita hopes the study will lead to the development of an online psychological course that will be accessible to people around the globe.
A personal connection
Dr Kishita, whose area of expertise and interest is evidence-based psychological therapies for older people and their families, explains her passion for her subject:
'I am from Japan and part of my interest is based on the fact Japan has one of the biggest ageing populations in the world. This high life expectancy means Japan has five times more dementia diagnoses than the UK.
On a more personal level, my mum cares for my grandmother who is living with dementia and I have seen her journey and I have seen what it is like to be a carer so I have a strong interest in supporting families.
'Often in healthcare, the focus is on those living with dementia, which is important of course, but I think it is equally important to support families as well.'
Dr Kishita believes that mental health services in the UK is far more advanced than Japan. She tells us:
'It is very structured, evidence-based and standardised across the country. But there is still not enough support for carers and this area is not as well-structured as other areas of mental health.'
She says that while some carers might actively seek support, not all carers do or can because of their circumstances and so can become easily isolated.
'I think it’s really important that carers get help from an early stage and throughout and also when someone has passed away because their journey won’t end at that point.
I believe that long-term support for family is critical for their improved wellbeing, but we are still behind.
'A lot of carers feel they can’t talk about negative consequences on their life because some people can feel guilty when talking about family members.
'I think we can make changes by conducting research so that carers are referred to appropriate services when needed.'
Are you a carer in Norfolk?
If you live in Norfolk and are interested in participating in carer studies, please contact Dr Kishita directly.