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The changing profile and perception of dementia addressed at inaugural lecture


In her recent inaugural lecture as Professor of Dementia Studies at our University, Claire Surr highlighted the changing profile and perception of dementia in recent years, suggesting that the outlook for people living with the condition has never been more positive.

Professor Claire Surr

The hour long lecture, which took place on Wednesday 11 November at the University’s Rose Bowl building, saw Professor Surr look at dementia as a research and societal issue, and explore some of the drivers that have led to dementia’s ‘coming of age’. An opportunity to reflect on and contribute to discussion about the future of dementia research and the position of people with dementia and their families within our society was also included.

Professor Surr explained: “In recent years dementia has moved from a condition that was spoken about relatively little beyond the health and care services field, to its position as a household name and topic on the international political agenda.

“Barely a day goes by when a dementia story does not occupy a space in national newspapers and on TV and radio.”

Professor Surr has over 15 years’ experience in the field conducting applied research, teaching and undertaking knowledge-transfer activities, with a focus on quality of care in care homes and workforce training and education programmes.  She is currently leading a £2.4 million study funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment Programme. The study is a multi-centre cluster randomised controlled trial exploring the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Dementia Care Mapping, an observational practice development tool, for supporting staff to deliver enhanced person-centred care to people with dementia in care homes (EPIC trial).

In addition, a further study, which will shape the future of education and training around dementia, is also currently being led by Claire, alongside collaborators from the University of Bradford and the University of Leeds. It will investigate the most effective approaches to training health and social care staff about dementia.

The study - ‘What Works? Evaluation’ - is funded by the Department of Health’s Policy Research Programme on behalf of Health Education England and is due to be completed in July 2017.  It will involve surveys to gather data on existing dementia training programmes, and their effect on staff knowledge and attitudes around dementia. The researchers will then conduct more detailed research in selected organisations to look at the ingredients that contribute to programmes that appear to be the most effective in leading to improved outcomes for people with dementia and their families.

The results of the research study will help ensure that money is invested in the most effective training methods. They will be used to develop policy and commissioning guidelines for use by the Government, Health Education England and Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs), alongside good practice guidelines for health and social care organisations and education and training providers.

Claire’s recently completed studies include evaluation of a cascade training programme in dementia for acute hospital staff and an evaluation of the impact of tuneable lighting on care home residents and staff.

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