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Pioneering Research into Dementia

16 January 2013 Hertfordshire, University of

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire are leading two of the twenty-one new Government-funded projects into dementia research - to boost dementia diagnosis rates and trial ground-breaking treatments, as well as helping people with dementia live well with the condition today.

The two projects, led by the University of Hertfordshire’s Centre for Research into Primary and Community Care, have received funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and are part of the Government’s £22 million investment into dementia research.

Over 670,000 people in England have some form of dementia – and this is set to double in the next thirty years, creating one of the biggest challenges for healthcare and support services. 

The University-led research projects will focus on two specific areas: how to improve the healthcare for people with dementia who also have additional medical conditions such as stroke, diabetes or visual impairment; and, secondly, how to best manage the behavioural and psychological symptoms of people living at home with dementia, symptoms such as becoming aggressive or agitated, wandering, becoming upset or distressed.

Dr Frances Bunn, University of Hertfordshire, said: “Many people with dementia have additional long-term health problems which, if not managed well, can make a person’s dementia worse or lead to unplanned hospital admissions.  We will be looking at how this affects how people access services, how their needs are assessed and how they are supported over time.”

Dr Daksha Trivedi, University of Hertfordshire, said: “The behavioural symptoms often experienced by people with dementia can put them at risk, affect their quality of life and also be very stressful for those providing care and support – sometimes becoming so difficult to cope with that people have to move into care homes. 

“It is still unclear as to the best way to reduce the symptoms of dementia among people living in their own homes. We need to know what can help reduce a person’s distress and so help them and their family carers to maintain a quality of life that makes living at home desirable. We will review evidence for non drug-based treatment and care by involving people with dementia, their families and care workers in this review process. We will test our findings with this group to ensure that our recommendations reflect their priorities and experiences.”

The two studies are led by Dr Frances Bunn and Dr Daksha Trivedi respectively.  Dr Bunn’s study is funded by the NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme and is in collaboration with University of Cambridge, Newcastle University, University College London, and Luton & Dunstable NHS Foundation Trust.  Dr Trivedi’s study is funded by the NIHR’s Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme in collaboration with Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, University of Surrey, University College London and King’s College London.

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