Newcastle University as a Centre of Excellence in Dementia
In June 2017, Newcastle University will become an Alzheimer’s Society Centre of Excellence. Through this centre, we will develop and test a ‘good practice’ model of primary care-led, post diagnostic dementia care that will be cost effective, person centered and sustainable.
The Centre will explore:
- Successful examples of GP-led care for dementia and other long term illnesses (e.g. diabetes, depression
- Current experiences of the Dementia Care Community (DCC) i.e. service users (people with dementia and their families), providers and commissioners and their views on the proposed 2016 model
- Costs of current model(s) using data from an ongoing project looking at future dementia care costs
A full spectrum of dementia research in Newcastle
In recognition of the Centre’s launch, we’re outlining the full spectrum of dementia research at Newcastle University. Dementia research in Newcastle is fully multi-disciplinary and we have robust relationships with a range of external partners.
This supports a comprehensive research programme that seeks to understand how to diagnose, treat and cure the disease, but also how to support those living with dementia, thier families, friends and carers.
Biomedical Research into DementiaBiomedical Research into Dementia
We examine the brain to identify the causes of different types of dementia. We look for common biomarkers and changes in the brain, in order to understand why it occurs and therefore what we may be able to do in the future to avoid it. In this area, we are also seeking potential treatments for different types of dementia, as well as seeking a cure.
For this research we are supported by several areas of Newcastle University and external partners.
In 2016, it was announced that we would receive over £16m investment to host the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre. The aim of this centre is to improve lives through world-class research in ageing and long-term conditions. As a partnership between the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, this unique research centre funds translational research in several areas, in order to deliver scientific advances to patients in England. One key area of research within the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre is dementia research theme.
Through previous NIHR funding for dementia research, researchers have been successful in establishing a differential diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB); a lesser known form of dementia which exhibits slightly different traits and therefore must be approached clinically, in a different way. Research like this has been ground-breaking for people living with DLB and has changed the way that patients receive care.
Epidemiological research into DementiaEpidemiological research into Dementia
We believe it is crucial to understand the pattern of dementia within populations.
Our dementia research in this area seeks to understand more about prevalance, whilst recognising more about the importance of social, economic, environmental and individual lifestyle factors that impact on health across the life course.
We have worked directly with key study cohorts in order to examine ageing and health. Much of the knowledge of the prevalance of dementia comes from studies such as the Thousand Families Study, Cognitive Function and Ageing Study and Newcastle 85+ Study.
Within this work, we also recognise the other demographic relationships at play when considering the risk of disease, such as social inequalities. Recognising that inequality of opportunity creates and embeds inequalities in health, we seek to identify and implement interventions aimed at tackling disparities in health including access to resources.
Societal and care-led research into DementiaSocietal and care-led research into Dementia
Dementia is a disease for which there is currently no cure. Whilst a large portion of funding is dedicated to finding a cure, and finding ways to slow the progression of the disease and create new treatments, it is crucial that we create a society in which people living with all forms of dementia are cared for in the best possible way, at the same time.
A large part of our research here at Newcastle University Institute for Ageing is centred on post-diagnostic care. We aim to support people working in primary care, by developing ways to improve the experience of care for the patient and their loved ones following a diagnosis. It is this area for which we have been awarded the Alzheimer's Society Centre of Excellence.
In addition to this, we also conduct research into how best to improve dementia care in hospital environments.
Another aspect of dementia research is advanced care planning for people with dementia. End of life care for people who have dementia is a key challenge, and research undertaken by the SEED project aims to address these challenges.
Environmental research into DementiaEnvironmental research into Dementia
To encourage and improve independence for people living with dementia, we have ongoing research into enabling environments, in order to counteract the associated risks of the condition. This research looks at the environment around us, such as our homes and cities - ensuring the best level of safety and comfort.
Newcastle City Futures does a lot of work through research and third party collaborations to look at the way areas of the city are planned. They also have a project entitled Future Homes, which looks at the way new homes can be developed in order to remain fit for purpose throughout the life course. This takes into account how people move about their home, and how as we age, adaptations may need to be made in order to facilitate independent living.
Dementia and Imagination is an initiative that aims to support those living with dementia by encouraging artistic activity and creating connections. The aim of this project is to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.
We recently supported the promotion of an artistic project aimed at improving connections for people living with dementia in care homes. The Hen Power Project exhibition was on display at the end of 2016 at the Campus for Ageing and Vitality. The work on show demonstrated the value of encouraging artistic activity to maintain quality of life and well-being for people with dementia and their carers.