The University of Salford is working with Alzheimer’s Society to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia by working towards becoming ‘dementia-friendly’.
There are 800,000 people with dementia in the UK and the number is set to double over the next 40 years. The associated cost to the UK economy is £23 billion a year, which is expected to reach over £50 billion by 2040.
One of the ways Alzheimer’s Society is responding to this challenge is to work with key partners and the people affected by dementia to develop ‘dementia-friendly communities’. This involves raising general awareness about dementia; encouraging carers and people with dementia to seek help and support; and helping people to maintain independence and control over their lives through community inclusion.
Academics from the health and social care, built environment, arts, media and robotics professions are collaborating across the University to share their teaching and research expertise on dementia while taking positive action to enable people to stay independent for longer.
One outcome of this work is the creation of a robot by Antonio Espingardeiro, a PhD researcher, which has the ability to remind elderly people to take their medication and to exercise. It can also provide 24-hour emergency notifications and directly connect to carers or GPs through video conference or SMS.
University researchers are using design to help people living with dementia by creating environments that support everyday living in settings such as hospital wards, homes and gardens with the aim of maximising independence and reducing frustration.
Students and staff are encouraged to become ‘dementia friends’, which involves recognising the signs of the illness, understanding what it is like to live with dementia and taking action such as spending more time with someone affected by the condition. It is also important to support staff and students who are caring for someone with dementia.
Next week (Monday 11 November) the Salford Dementia Action Alliance will be launched at MediaCityUK. Alliance members which include the University, Alzheimer’s Society, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, office of Hazel Blears MP, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, TUC, local care homes, business and other charities and services will work together to improve the lives of people with dementia.
Professor Maggie Pearson, the University’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Public Benefit and Dean of the College of Health & Social Care, will chair the Salford Dementia Action Alliance.
She said: “Dementia is a degenerative illness with no cure so high quality support and care is absolutely vital. The University’s work to become dementia-friendly is an important step in securing lasting improvements for the Salford community.”