The annual Alzheimer’s Society conference is a key event for the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies. It is an opportunity both to hear about care and cure research that is being carried out by others, as well as to share progress in the research that is being carried out here in the Centre, much of which is supported and / or funded by the Alzheimer’s Society.
The 2018 conference was held at the Kia Oval in London. It was rather pleasant to enjoy our breaks in the sunshine whilst watching a game of cricket.
This year the conference took place during Dementia Action Week and throughout the conference I was inspired by others to think about what other actions I could take to improve the lives of people living with dementia. Some of the most inspiring presentations took place during the first morning of the conference, with people living with dementia speaking passionately about the We Statements and the Three Nations Dementia Working Group. There was a real focus on the need to change societal attitudes towards dementia; to go beyond awareness and move towards meaningful actions.
I attended a range of fascinating sessions, with two in particular really standing out for me. One session was dedicated to the topic of dying well with dementia and another to sex and intimacy. Both of these are subjects that can raise a variety of emotions and it was great to hear professionals and people with lived experience of dementia sharing their thoughts, experiences and ideas for improving practice. One lady living with dementia spoke passionately about end of life care and the importance of not making assumptions about what someone’s wishes might be, acknowledging that everyone is different so to ask, not assume. The same was said about the topic of sex and intimacy; that there can’t be one approach for everyone, but the need to recognise and promote the importance of intimate relationships for some people.
The Centre was well represented during the conference with presentations delivered by a number of staff and students.:
Jan Oyebode presented on the Angela Project in a session on ‘younger people with dementia’. The aim of the Angela Project is to improve diagnosis and support for younger people with dementia. More information about the Angela Project can be found here.
As part of the ‘caring for carers’ session, Sahdia Parveen presented her findings from the Caregiving HOPE study, which is researching the cultural obligation, willingness and preparedness to care. More information about Caregiving HOPE can be found here.
Courtney Shaw and Suzanne Hill presented findings from their PhD projects which form part of the University of Bradford Doctoral Training Centre. Courtney shared information from her study as part of a session on ‘getting emergency care right’. Courtney is seeking to promote dementia friendly Emergency Departments in her PhD study. Suzanne is investigating the quality and continuity of medication management systems when people living with dementia move between the care home and hospital setting. Suzanne presented her work as part of the ‘Dementia Research Leaders PhD showcase’ session. More information about the Doctoral Training Centre can be found here.
Several people commented that the atmosphere at the conference seemed to be more energetic than previous years, and I have to agree with this. I think the change from Dementia Awareness to Dementia Action perhaps had a role to play in this. I certainly have a list of ideas to consider implementing and I invite you to think about whether there are any actions you could carry out to meaningfully support people living with dementia.
Written by Lindsey Collins