The University of Salford’s ground-breaking research Institute dedicated to improving the lives of people living with dementia has celebrated its first anniversary, with news that it has exceeded £1m in donations to fund its work.
The Salford Institute for Dementia was launched on 12 December 2013, to coincide with a G8 summit on dementia in London. The establishment of the Institute recognised more than three years of collaboration by academics across the University in the Dementia Design Network, which brought together colleagues working in in the Built Environment, Health and Social Sciences, Technology, and the Arts—the four collaborative pillars that define the Institute’s unique hopeful approach to this significant condition.
Among the donations is a grant of £325,000 from the Booth Charities, to fund the Institute’s ground-breaking research into Young Onset Dementia, which will explore together with younger people living with dementia, their families and carers how current services and support can respond better to meet their needs and aspirations.
Other donations have come from alumni, friends of the University of Salford, the Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust and the Medlock Coles Charitable Trust, whose Managing Trustee David Medlock is an alumnus of the University of Salford, having graduated with a BSc in Environmental Health in 1975.
Mrs Lynda Needham, Chief Executive of the Booth Charities, said: “The Booth Charities are delighted to be supporting research at the Salford Institute for Dementia which will explore the needs and preferences of younger people living with dementia and their families based on the Humphrey Booth Resource Centre as a hub of excellence in a system of support; and working with Salford City Council Adult Services. The Institute has made excellent progress in its first year, genuinely engaging with people living with dementia and their carers and families, to ensure that the research and education which it undertakes truly reflects the issues and challenges faced by people affected by dementia in their everyday lives.”
Professor Maggie Pearson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Public Benefit) and Director of the Salford Institute for Dementia, said: “On our first anniversary, we wish to thank all those that have contributed to the Institute with their time, fantastic ideas, infectious enthusiasm and commitment. We could not have achieved this level of success without the support of colleagues from across the University community, our Institute Associates who are living with, or caring for, someone with dementia, our international colleagues and our External Advisory Board, chaired by Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP, who has been very generous in the wisdom, energy and commitment which she has brought to the Institute.
“This is a great opportunity for us to celebrate the success of the Institute in its inaugural year and to also acknowledge all of those who have given donations, big or small, for their contribution.
”The Institute’s driving philosophy is to enable people to live as well as possible with dementia and to instil in everyone a confidence that they can make a difference to a person’s experience of dementia—and this is where we find hope where others see helplessness. Whether through the education we provide, the qualities and understanding of our graduates or the research that we undertake, our activities are focused on making a lasting difference to the lives of people affected by dementia today..”
Rt Hon Hazel Blears, MP for Salford and Eccles and Chair of the External Advisory Board for the Salford Institute for Dementia, said: “I want to thank all those people who have been kind enough to donate funds to the Salford Institute for Dementia, because without funds we can’t do the essential work that’s necessary to help people with dementia in this country. So thank you and I hope many more of you will join us in this journey.”
In the UK alone there are currently more than 835,000 people living with dementia, and this number is expected to double in the next 40 years. In Greater Manchester the number of people with dementia will increase rapidly, from 30,000 to 40,000, over the next 12 years. The associated cost to the UK economy of dementia currently stands at £26bn, estimated to double to more than £50bn per year by 2040. The majority of this cost is borne by family and carers.
One of the Institute’s research streams is exploring the potential uses of technology to enhance the lives of people living with dementia. Software is being developed to explore how virtual reality can evoke memories and emotional responses. At the early stages of dementia, people could be filmed talking to and embracing a loved one. When their memory fades they will be able to experience the moment again in a 3D multi-sensory environment intended to trigger the original thoughts and feelings.
The University’s expertise in robotics is being applied to dementia, developing intelligent devices and other solutions to address risk factors and maximise the independence of people living with dementia. One example is the development of ‘smart’ furniture to monitor and alert others to changes in someone’s condition.
Research into dementia-friendly design will enable the creation of environments that support daily life in a range of settings including the person’s home, garden, residential care or hospital. Environmental design is being studied to determine how to plan environments and organise stimuli to reduce confusion and frustration and thus minimise the 4 “A’s of Alzheimer’s—anxiety, agitation, aggression, and apathy.
On December 3 2014, the honorary degree of Doctor of Science was awarded to Visiting Professor Dr John Zeisel from Boston, USA, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the research and services enabling people to age hopefully and to live well with dementia.
While the Institute has established itself as a leading group in research and education in dementia in the UK in a short space of time, moving forward, there are ambitious plans to create a dementia-friendly hub accessible to the public where Institute colleagues can work under the same roof more easily and efficiently.