Investigating the best ways to put dementia care research into practice

Read about a research project we funded into dissemination and implementation in dementia care: a systemic review.

Lead Investigator: Dr Jo Thompson Coon 
Institution: University of Exeter
Grant type: Project Grant
Grant amount: £68,851
Start date: September 2015
Completion date: November 2016

What was the project, and what did the researchers do?

Research has provided us with a growing list of things that can be done to improve dementia care. However, there is a gap between the care that people with dementia receive and what research suggests best quality care should actually involve. 

The aim of this project was to find out what information was available about the ways we currently communicate the findings of dementia research (dissemination) and how it is put into practice (implementation). They also wanted to know what factors may help bring about a change in practice and what can stop it from working. 

The group aimed to find out what research has been done across all dementia stages (from diagnosis to end of life) and all settings of dementia care (community, care homes, hospitals, etc). To do this, they looked at all of the existing research to find studies on dissemination and implementation. They then summarised the findings of all of these studies to produce a map of what works and what doesn't work. 

What were the key results, and how will this help in the fight against dementia?

The most frequently reported strategies to improve practice were training and education of care staff and other professionals, followed by distribution of educational materials. The development of relationships and a team approach between those working with people with dementia were also common. For example, team meetings or chosen individuals to promote the change in practice. In addition, support from leaders and managers helped to create change, whereas time pressures and high workload of care staff were common barriers. 

The researchers noted that the documenting of what people did to implement better care was often very poor. In order to improve implementation the documenting of the strategies put in place by different care facilities would need to be improved.

The researchers state that the number of interventions to improve dementia care practice in hospitals doesn't appear to match the increasing demands on these settings to care for people with dementia. This area should be given priority in order to ensure the best possible quality of care. In addition, little is known about how to put best practice into action to support family carers of people with dementia living in the community or improve dementia care at the end of life.

This understanding will benefit the lives of those with dementia (and those who care for them) by helping to ensure they can access the best possible care. This will also benefit carers of people affected by dementia by helping to establish how to implement practices known to relieve things cause carers stress and anxiety.

What happened next? Future work and additional grants

The team are working on a further review to look in more detail at which strategies work and what research can tell us about how to overcome existing challenges. 

How were people told about the results? Conferences and Publications

Poster presentations

  • Alzheimer's Society Annual Research conference, June 2016 

Conference presentations

  • Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2016, July 2016, and the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Social Medicine, September 2016.
  • Campbell Collaboration What Works Global Summit 2016


  • Alzheimer's Society Research conferences, 2015 and 2016.


  • The researchers plan to publish their findings in peer reviewed journals in near future
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