IDEAL is a research project based at the University of Exeter, an Alzheimer’s Society Centre of Excellence. The centres are our biggest single investments into research to improve dementia care.
DEAL (Improving the experience of dementia and enhancing active life) aims to understand what affects the ability of people to live well with dementia.
Alzheimer’s Society has awarded funding so that researchers on the IDEAL project can continue their work for 3 more years. This extension will provide the opportunity to learn from the experiences of a wider range of people affected by dementia. This will include black, Asian and minority ethnic communities as well as people with advanced dementia.
What is the latest from IDEAL?
This week Alzheimer’s Society and the University of Exeter brought together people with dementia, researchers, medical professionals, policy makers and service managers. The event shared the latest findings from the IDEAL project around living well with dementia and shaped the next steps of the research.
The University of Exeter research team have been working closely with over 1,500 people with dementia and over 1,200 family members or friends. They want to learn how we can support people with dementia to live well.
As we learn more about what can help people affected by dementia to live well we need to ensure these findings are made a reality. This could mean a change in policy or clinical practice.
Professor Linda Clare, leading the IDEAL programme, explained what living well with dementia meant to people with the condition. The top answers included several things that many of us might take for granted – getting out and about, being fit and active and seeing friends.
We also heard about the impact that managing psychological health has on the ability to live well. Services that tackle depression, loneliness and people’s self-esteem have the potential to make the biggest impact in helping people to live well.
Working in partnership with people affected by dementia
One of the most inspiring speakers was Keith Oliver who has a diagnosis of dementia. He’s an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador and has been involved in IDEAL since it started 5 years ago.
Keith highlighted the importance of research to him personally. He finds research gives him hope for the future and aims to ‘give the 850,000 people with dementia the same ammunition (that he has) to live well with dementia’.
Every aspect of the IDEAL programme is guided by people affected by dementia. Alongside Keith, there is a group of people living with dementia and carers, known as the ‘Action on Living Well: asking you’ (ALWAYS) group. The group provide advice to researchers based on their personal experiences, skills and expertise. They have helped shape the project, kept the researchers on track and are instrumental in sharing results.
Alzheimer’s Society and IDEAL
Jeremy Hughes CEO of Alzheimer’s Society has reiterated our commitment to the IDEAL programme. We have seen it has already begun to show ‘what good looks like in dementia care’.
We are all aware of the importance of making dementia care IDEAL for people living with dementia. We must ensure the evidence gathered by this project is used as a powerful message to influence health care policy. This will help to create positive, tangible change in the day-to-day lives of people affected by dementia.
This post also appears on www.alzheimers.org.uk.