7 Jul 2022

The funding is part of a national investment programme by the NIHR of £7.5m for promising early career researchers to pursue dementia research across the NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs).

Around 900,000 people live with dementia in the UK; this is projected to grow to 1.6 million people by 2040, with health, social and family care costs increasing from £34.7bn to £94.1bn. Around 45% of these costs are for adult social care and support. Dementia is projected as the largest increasing area for palliative care by 2060 (264% increase globally).

Older Black man holding hands with woman

At ARC South London, our research aims to address key gaps in current research combined with nurturing postdoctoral researchers specialising in dementia within supportive applied research teams. We will develop a postdoctoral training programme that builds research capacity in palliative and social care for people living with dementia through two interventions:

  • Co-designing a validated tool with family carers, to support care, decision-making and access to services. The Integrated Person-centred Outcome Scale in dementia (IPOS-Dem) tool includes assessment of symptoms, emotional, spiritual and information needs and will be integrated with telehealth.
  • Developing interventions to support care homes in better meeting residents’ spiritual needs, particularly those living with dementia from minority cultural or faith backgrounds. The research will be informed by perspectives of care home staff, residents living with dementia, and their family and friends to increase understanding of the beliefs and spiritual needs of residents living with dementia. Guidance and policies will be developed to help care home staff support spiritual care.

Research findings and resources will be widely shared with diverse audiences online and face-to-face, including people with care and support needs, carers, practitioners, managers clinicians, commissioners and researchers.

This investment will enable us to support new postdoctoral researchers who will progress vital research, expertise and leadership to deliver timely person-centred care. We aim for their work to help improve outcomes, comfort and quality of life, and social and end-of-life care for people with dementia and their carers.

We are also proud to be involved in the Three NIHR Schools projects on continence and one on carer information. Our career development awards and ARC South London projects will further expand the skills of the dementia care workforce as well as those of new generations of talented and empathic researchers

Professor Jill Manthorpe, social care theme lead

Professor Jill Manthorpe CBE, ARC South London’s social care theme lead and director of the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR, said: “We want to improve the lives of people with dementia, and those caring for them, through innovative research that tackles a range of challenges around this disease.

“This new funding taps into the up-and-coming talent in the NIHR ecosystem, supporting fledgling dementia researchers from a range of disciplines to become the chief investigators of the future and building a solid foundation for the next decades of dementia research.”

Read more about the investment by the NIHR in dementia research