Recent evidence has found that older adults living with both dementia and sensory impairment experience a number of issues that affect their quality of life. These include; an increased sense of disorientation, difficulty locating themselves using visual and auditory cues, greater levels of distress leading to agitation and aggression, an increased prevalence of hallucinations, delusions and depression, and are often more isolated from family interactions and the community in general.

Furthermore, caregiver burnout and physical exhaustion are amplified due to greater dependency for self-care and other activities of daily living and communication barriers.

The SENSE-Cog field trial is looking to develop a new series of tools that will hopefully improve the quality of life of people that are affected by both dementia and a sensory impairment. We caught up with Annie Pye, a researcher on this study, to find out more:

What are the main aims of the study?

There are several gaps in care for individuals suffering with both sensory and cognitive impairment. This study aims to trial a ‘sensory support intervention’ adapted for people with vision and/or hearing impairments and evaluate the effect of this intervention on the person’s quality of life.

What does it involve for a participant?MRi brain scan image

We are trialling different components of a sensory support intervention. The intervention components are: a home-based vision and hearing assessment, a correction of sensory impairment with glasses or hearing aids, communication training, information and advice about local events and services, personalised goal setting and support from a sensory support worker.
Different participants will receive different components of the intervention and the parts that work well will be included in a full scale trial starting next year.

At the start and the end of the study, the participant and study partner will be asked to complete a set of paper-based questionnaires. These can either be completed by the participant at home in their own time, or the Sensory Support Worker can assist them if needed.
At the end of the study, we invite participants and study partners to take part in an audio-recorded semi-structured interview to give us feedback about their experiences on the trial.

How long is the study for?

The intervention will take a maximum of 12 weeks. The amount of visits required will depend on the components of the intervention that you receive. The maximum number of visits will be 12, once weekly for 12 weeks. We anticipate that visits will not last longer than 1 hour and a half.

Young nurse and female senior in nursing home, the old lady sitting in a wheel chair

What do you hope the outcomes of the study will be?

It is hoped that from this study we will be able to determine what aspects of the intervention are useful for improving quality of life in people with dementia and sensory impairment. Using the information from this study we plan to finalise an intervention to trial in a full scale study at a later date.

Where is the study based?

The study will take place entirely within the participant’s own home. This study is recruiting from the Greater Manchester area.

Who can take part?

We are looking to recruit individuals who have received a formal diagnosis of either vascular, mixed or Alzheimer’s dementia.
As we are looking at the impact of dementia and sensory impairment, we also need participants to have either vision or hearing problems- this doesn’t need to be formally diagnosed but if you struggle with daily tasks as a result of your hearing and vision then we would really like to hear your opinion.

We also need participants to have a study partner. Ideally this will be a spouse, family member or neighbour who they spend a reasonable amount of time with. Participants must be registered with Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust.


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You can see if you are eligible for this study, as well as others around the nation, by logging into your Join Dementia Research account.

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