Understanding the needs and experiences of people affected by dementia in rural areas

Research project: Scaling the Peaks; Understanding the barriers and drivers to providing and using dementia friendly community services in rural areas: the impact of location, cultures and community in the Peak District National Park on sustaining service innovations.

Lead Investigator: Dr Fiona Jayne Marshall

Institution: University of Nottingham

Grant type: Senior Fellowship

Duration: 48 months

Amount: £279,112

Why did we fund this fellowship?

Comments from members of our Research Network:

'I feel this is a well thought out and researched project and well worthy of funding'

'I hope the results of the project will enable social services to fund more activities in all rural areas'

'Although this research focuses on the Peak ... I think that this has relevance in other rural areas of Britain'

What do we already know?

The geographical area that people live in can have an influence on many aspects of life. This includes the health and wellbeing of people affected by dementia. 

Challenges that face people affected by dementia living in rural areas include limited access to GP surgeries and other healthcare services. Access to post-diagnosissupport and other services such as paid carers may also be inadequate. However, there may be other aspects of living in a rural community that can be of benefit to people with the condition. 

Previous research has indicated that there may also be differences between the experiences of people who have lived in a remote area all of their lives and those who moved to the area later in life. 

Other projects have looked into the difficulties in diagnosis and follow-up care for people with dementia in the countryside, particularly in Scotland and Ireland. However, no previous research has been undertaken that takes into account the views of care providers in these areas. 

What does this project involve?

Dr Marshall aims to discover how living in rural areas impacts on people who are affected by dementia as well as care and service providers. The project will focus on people who live in the Peak District National Park area in Derbyshire.

The project will involve interviewing people about their everyday lives and aspects such as access to services. The project will also take into account the views of family carers and how living in rural areas can impact on their role.

Part of the project will involve creating a special map that highlights aspects that could impact on the lives of people with dementia, including road conditions, landscape and locations of healthcare providers and volunteer services. 

Participants will be sourced from the community and through local groups, including Singing for the Brain. The contributors will be a mixture of people who have lived in the Peak District their whole life and those who have moved there recently, to determine whether there are any differences in their experiences.  

The project will also involve interviewing doctors, family carers and other service providers to discover the aspects of their roles that are made easier or more challenging based on their location. 

How will this benefit people with dementia?

The findings should increase understanding of the needs and challenges faced by those living with dementia in the countryside in Britain. They will be used to help improve care at home for people affected by dementia and to design services that work well in these communities. The map will provide a way for those who manage services to discover where there may be pockets of unmet need. 

The findings can also be used by voluntary and charitable groups to implement changes in services which best fit the needs of the people affected. The results that highlight the best practice will be used to make a learning pack for people who provide care in these communities.

If you live in the Derbyshire area and are interested in joining this study, please contact Dr Marshall via one of the following:

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Landline: 0115 8232458 (leaving a name and contact number in your message). 
  • Mobile 07920 813613 (may cost more)
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