Dementia toolkit to help patients, carers and healthcare workers
This story was originally featured on the NIHR website.
A comprehensive online database featuring the latest scientific evidence on what works in dementia care and treatment has been developed by the researchers at the Personal Social Services Research Unit, London School of Economics and Political Science (PSSRU at LSE).
Launched today, Wednesday 3 August, the toolkit devised by Adelina Comas-Herrera, David McDaid, Professor Martin Knapp and colleagues is the first of its kind globally. The Dementia Evidence Toolkit brings together more than 3,000 journal articles and 700 reviews of research studies in one place.
The Toolkit was developed as part of the MODEM (Modelling the Outcome and Cost Impacts of Interventions for Dementia) project, with additional funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The wider MODEM project is funded by both the ESRC and the NIHR as part of their Improving Dementia Care initiative.
The aim is to make all this information publicly available in a form that is clear and easy to understand for dementia patients, their families and unpaid carers as well as for staff working in health and social care. It will also benefit academics and those involved in decision-making both locally and nationally.
Dementia is the fastest growing major cause of health-related disability across the world, and the health, social and economic impacts are increasing because of an ageing population. There are around 850,000 people in the UK with the condition, a figure expected to rise to 2 million by 2051. There are currently no cures for dementia which is associated with ongoing cognitive decline such as memory loss, problems with judgement and often some behavioural issues. Instead, the focus for healthcare services is on slowing down dementia progression using different care approaches.
Professor Knapp, Director of the PSSRU at LSE, NIHR Senior Investigator and lead investigator for the MODEM project, says this new toolkit will help those involved in developing services and treatments for both people living with dementia and their carers. By searching the online database, they will be able to make informed decisions on which services and treatments are effective and how much they cost. It will enable them to check how strong the evidence is for a particular treatment or to identify how much more research is needed.
“As the economic impact of dementia grows, it’s especially important to give commissioners and providers the information that helps them use public funds to the best effect. In that way we can perhaps improve the lives both of people with dementia and of their carers.
“Our toolkit draws evidence together in one place, showing which interventions work well and at what cost.”
“There’s this perception that the cognitive decline associated with dementia is benign or even slightly humorous,” says Professor Knapp. “The reality is people will often have behavioural issues and this impacts considerably on families – people talk of their loved one’s personality changing entirely. We hope the toolkit helps improve understanding of how people can continue to live well – and as well as possible – with dementia today.”
The MODEM Project is still recruiting through Join Dementia Research, find out more about the study here.