Ageing and Dementia Research Centre at Bournemouth University
The Ageing & Dementia Research Centre (ADRC) at Bournemouth University brings together cross-faculty research expertise in areas of ageing and dementia. The research team is supported by experts in health and social science, and in science and technology. The aim of the ADRC is to use the team’s collective expertise to develop person-centred research which will improve the lives of people with dementia and their families.
The team at the Centre works closely with people with dementia and their carers in the development and implementation of their research. Key areas of activity relate to developing ageing and dementia-friendly environments; nutrition and well-being; activities and social inclusion including healthy lifestyles with minority ethnic communities; developing and evaluating innovative dementia education including working with people with dementia to develop these materials.
Developing ageing and dementia-friendly environments
People with dementia often find it more difficult to understand and navigate built environments. Researchers at the University carry out research into the design of supportive dementia-friendly environments, using psychological evidence, the views of people with dementia, and state-of-the-art technology.
The team has developed virtual care homes, which they use in combination with eye tracker technology to see how people affected by dementia find their way around an unfamiliar space. This has enabled the researchers to create guidelines for the design of dementia-friendly environments which specifically address navigation and orientation issues which a person with dementia might face.
The aim is that the recommendations will be used to develop national design standards for residential care homes and for other public places such as hotels, shops and hospitals, to help those with dementia with their navigation and wayfinding.
Nutrition and Wellbeing
One outcome of living with dementia is that eating and drinking can become increasingly difficult, which heightens the risk of severe malnutrition and weight loss, which in turn can led to further physical and mental decline. Some people face physical difficulties with chewing and swallowing, while others may struggle to identify when they feel thirsty or hungry.
Research led by the ADRC has resulted in the development of a toolkit which is helping to transform nutritional care for people with dementia. Research carried out in a number of care homes investigated how much people with dementia were consuming each day and found that around half of the participants were not eating or drinking enough to meet their daily energy needs.
The team at the ADRC has developed a number of resources to help, including ‘Eating and Drinking well with Dementia: A Guide for Family Carers and Friends’, and best practice guidance for healthcare professionals. These resources are helping to reverse trends such as weight loss amongst people in care homes.
Project TOMATO is a collaborative study led by Bournemouth University in partnership with Homecare Association, Leeds Beckett University and Universities of Leeds and Exeter and Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust. The study is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) which aims to work with people living with dementia, their family carers and home care professionals to improve nutritional care for people living with dementia at home.
The study began in November 2022 and involves home care organisations from various regions across England. As part of the study, the existing care home resources have been adapted and tailored to home care to support people living with dementia at home with eating and drinking. Informed by stakeholders with lived and learnt experience, the handy and detailed guide ‘Eating and Drinking Well with Dementia at Home’ is designed as a helpful resource for both family carers and home care professionals. These will be tested in the second phase of the study, with plans to launch around the summer of 2024.
Activity and Social Inclusion
The team’s research in these areas is driving forward innovative practice in all aspects of health and social care provision for people with dementia, including best practice in health promotion, health and social care delivery, and helping families and carers to support the person with dementia.
One of the projects investigated the benefits of Tai Chi for people who are living with dementia, and found that it can help maintain good quality of life, as well as potentially reducing the risk of falls.
The ‘Story to Remember’ research, conducted directly with people with dementia, has resulted in the development of a storytelling and creative drama programme designed to improve communication between people with dementia and their family members and healthcare professionals.
The Healthy Brain, Healthy Life public engagement project aims to create dialogue and engage with minority ethnic communities around brain health and dementia. The goal is to increase knowledge around brain health and the positive steps people can take to improve their brain health and reduce their risk of dementia. The project team use traditional food, music, storytelling and other creative approaches in a series of workshops exploring brain health. Through the workshops, the project will also co-create digital stories and culturally tailored resources, such as recipes, to reach wider minority ethnic audiences.
The quality of care provided to people with dementia is a global concern. To improve the delivery of dementia care there is the need for appropriate and effective training for all health and social care staff, a recommendation outlined in government policy. The team at the ADRC have developed innovative education and training packages that have been delivered nationally and presented internationally.
The Centre’s education is innovative in two ways:
- The use of simulation in a very broad sense, using cost effective methods, including the use of Virtual Reality. The simulation approach enables staff to consider experiences from the point of view of a person living with dementia. The team hypothesize that ‘placing staff into the shoes of a person with dementia’ will enable them to make positive changes to how they care and support people with dementia.
- Care is taken to evaluate the effectiveness of the programmes which are delivered, immediately after delivery but also when are learners return to practice. This helps to identify whether the programmes have influenced the learners’ practice. That evaluation is taken a step further by asking care recipients if they have noticed a difference in care providers’ practice after they have completed one of the programmes.
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Dementia Research UK is a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales No. 8236220. Charity No. 1154143. In Scotland Charity No. SC045615.
The charity is also registered in the UK with the Information Commissioner and Fundraising Regulator.