Centre for Applied Dementia Studies Uni of Bradford & the PM Challenge

Thursday 30 November 2017

The DAA are aiming to shine a spotlight on the Prime Minister’s Challenge 2020 as we want to help the Department of Health implement this important piece of work. Gail Mountain at Uni of Bradford writes about what they are doing.

The well established hub of dementia expertise at Bradford became a Centre for Applied Dementia Studies in September 2017.  This was a watershed for us at Bradford; the new status acknowledges our significant legacy, established by Professor Tom Kitwood in the 1990’s and continued by Professor Murna Downs.  It demonstrates the University’s confidence in our on-going, integrated programme of research, education and training. 

These are important times for dementia research and practice.  The policy focus on dementia continues as illustrated by the Prime Ministers Challenge for dementia (2020) and the Well Pathway for Dementia from NHS England.  We anticipate that both policy and societal awareness will continue to grow, accompanied by sustained investment in dementia education and researchBelow we give some illustrations of how we are responding to current priorities.   

Changing perceptions/ raising awareness

The main key to the success of dementia studies at Bradford is our longstanding involvement of people living with dementia (our experts by experience) in research, education and training. This became a cornerstone of our work before others deemed such engagement to be a possibility. We are now implementing a rights based approach with people with dementia and including this within our education programmes. We are also extending understanding of how people with dementia can engage in research; through our large research programmes we are encouraging people with dementia to get involved in data analysis as well as in advising research and as participants.    

We have strong links with policy and practice locally and nationally and are working with such groups and experts by experience to continue to raise dementia awareness within communities.   This includes explorations of how dementia awareness can be improved in adolescents, university students and in minority ethnic communities and how positive attitudes might be informed.

Supporting family carers

The carers of people with dementia are integral to our activities; for example one of our current large studies is exploring preparedness for caring obligations.  An implementation study just about to commence is of a provenly effective intervention which will be delivered through the voluntary sector for carers from ethnic minority groups 

Risk reduction/ Healthy ageing    

We are very pleased to be equal partners with the University of Leeds and Bradford Hospitals in the Wolfson Centre for Applied Research, to be located on the campus of Bradford Royal Infirmary.  Our initial collaborations are within a thematic area called Healthy ageing, where we will work with other Wolfson researchers on risk reduction and preventive strategies. We will also continue our existing research into how people can live well into later life despite age related illness, disability (which for some includes dementia).  One of our large current research projects is a trial of an intervention to prevent avoidable hospital admissions of older people living in care homes. Another involves an effectiveness study of an intervention for people post dementia diagnosis.  A large project about to commence will be developing and testing interventions to improve home care for people with dementia.  Another large project is aiming to improve service provision for for people with early onset dementia and their carers. 

Responding to health and social care

We are excited to be at the forefront of dementia education which has national and international reach through our distance learning programmes. From 2018 we will be offering a new masters programme in Advanced Dementia Practice in direct response to requests for education to develop leaders in the field.  Accompanying research is informing content; for example the ‘What works’ for dementia education and practice’ project which has just completed.

Our established training is also responsive to changing requirements; for example we recently embraced requests from policy and from palliative care practice and from this developed bespoke training for hospice care.   

Partnerships and collaborations

Co-production with people living with dementia is essential to ensure the on-going relevance of the work conducted through Bradford.  Collaborations with other researchers and with policy and practice are also core to this endeavour as we hope that the few illustrations provided above have shown.