WISERD welcomes the news that Cardiff has been chosen as one of the locations for the UK’s largest dementia research initiative. The £13m investment at Cardiff University is the biggest Wales has received for scientific study into dementia. The research will provide new ways to diagnose, treat, prevent and care for people with dementia.
Social scientists at WISERD, based at Cardiff University, are already focusing on finding strategies to live well with dementia. Working with the Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health Group (REACH) at Exeter University, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research, WISERD Director, Professor Ian Rees Jones and Dr Alex Hillman have been finding out what social and psychological factors influence people with dementia and their families’ ability to live well with dementia.
This project is called the IDEAL study. It is a longitudinal cohort study using a mixed methods approach, which involves interviewing 1,500 people with dementia from England, Wales and Scotland every year for three years. At the end of the study they will produce an action plan to assist policy-makers, purchasers and providers to develop evidence-based policies and practices around living well with dementia.
Dr Alex Hillman is the lead researcher on the qualitative part of the IDEAL study. She emphasises the challenges associated with doing qualitative research with people with dementia: “We rely on our participants to tell us stories about themselves and their lives; this can pose difficulties for those for whom recalling events and reflecting on their meaning provides a significant challenge. However, hearing the stories of those directly affected by dementia is integral to understanding the factors that influence a person, and their families’ ability to manage and cope with its effects.”
WISERD recently held an event with Bangor University involving researchers, health and social care practitioners, community groups, third sector organisations, people living with dementia and those who support them. The event provided an opportunity to share developing dementia research and hear from an individual living with dementia about the value and purpose of research to them.
As one of six UK centres, the new research centre in Wales will be a significant section of the newly launched UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) – a £250m initiative, funded by the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK. The major investment being made highlights the extent to which dementia research is a growing priority across the UK. WISERD will continue to carry out research which seeks to understand more about how those with dementia and their families are finding ways to cope with the effects of dementia and to inform and improve current practice.