COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AND HEALTH
Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions

Professor Linda Clare is assisting people with early-stage dementia to improve their well-being.

House of Commons showcase for University of Exeter dementia research

University of Exeter research which can help people living with early-stage dementia to manage their everyday lives and remain independent will be showcased by politicians at the House of Commons.

The work of Professor Linda Clare is assisting people with early-stage dementia to improve their well-being, and those who care for them to experience reduced stress.

This success of this approach, called cognitive rehabilitation, which helps people try to manage the impact of memory difficulties on everyday life, is featured in a new publication launched by the Academy of Social Sciences and its Campaign for Social Science today.

The booklet, Making the Case for the Social Sciences 11 – Dementia, is launched during a seminar at Westminster by the Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, former Liberal Democrat Minister of State for Community and Social Care and a longstanding champion of improving dementia care, with a scheduled appearance from Jane Ellison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health. The discussion will feature an expert panel of leading researchers and senior policy makers, including Dr Lisa Cameron MP and the Baroness Greengross OBE.

The publication features 14 case studies on innovative treatments and methods from the social sciences that have raised standards of care and quality of life for people with dementia. There are more than 750,000 people with dementia in the UK. This figure is expected to double by 2040.

Cognitive rehabilitation involves using memory aids and learning new skills to bring about behaviour change. People with dementia and their families taking part in the trial work together with a health professional over a number of sessions to identify their goals relating to everyday activities, and then devise and implement strategies for achieving these goals.

This programme was tested in an initial randomised controlled trial conducted in North Wales, funded by the Alzheimer’s Society. A larger scale study, called GREAT, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, is underway to confirm the scale of the effects already identified and to see whether it should be available on the NHS. The aim of GREAT is to see whether “goal oriented” cognitive rehabilitation can help people with early-stage dementia reduce their functional disability and maximise their engagement and social participation.

The GREAT study is being conducted across England and Wales, with participants in Bath, Bangor, Birmingham, Cardiff, London, Kent, Manchester and Newcastle.

Professor Clare said: “I am delighted that the publication and event will promote more awareness of this important work and the extensive contribution that social scientists make to improving care and support for people with dementia.

“The memory and other difficulties that people with early-stage dementia experience can affect activities, relationships and enjoyment of life. It is very important to find out how people can live as well as possible while experiencing these difficulties.”

Date: 15 March 2016

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