A ground-breaking research project to understand the needs and experiences of people affected by dementia in rural areas is to be carried out in Derbyshire’s Peak District.
Over the next four years, Dr Fiona Marshall
, Alzheimer’s Society Senior Research Fellow at The University of Nottingham, will follow a group of people with dementia and their carers to find out how and to what extent they use the services provided by the NHS and social and voluntary sectors.
Dr Marshall is teaming up with experts in the Nottingham Geospatial Institute
to map the human and geospatial geography of people affected by dementia in the area over two years to see how seasonal weather and the dramatic landscape affects the way people seek help. The results will be used to develop rural care models and a toolkit which will help collaborative decisions about dementia care needs in the Peak Park amongst users and service providers.
Dr Marshall, who also jointly advises ITV’s Emmerdale on dementia storylines, said: “People living in remote areas such as the Derbyshire Peaks find it harder to access services for themselves or relatives with dementia, or suspected dementia which is undiagnosed. Little is known about how the ways in which older people with memory problems manage their lives in rural areas, particularly among the farming community in which dementia is slightly more prevalent.
“We want to examine many factors such as closeness to services such as pharmacies, GPs, post offices, food sources and social groups as well as dementia care services provided by the state and private sector. But we need help from local people as well as those services to paint an accurate picture of the current situation in this beautiful but remote part of the country.We are not looking to diagnose people with dementia or provide any interventions.”
The study comes as a new ‘dementia atlas’, published by the Government, has revealed a postcode lottery of care for the condition, with some areas falling short in terms of meeting national standards in terms of offering regular reviews and support.
Up to 60 people living with memory difficulties are needed from all walks of life to take part in the research, including those who are still working, those who are retired, own home, residential and nursing home occupants.
Participants will be invited to take part in a series of confidential discussions within their home about their lives. Dr Marshall will also attend community groups and meetings such as the Singing for the Brain, church groups, carer support groups and related groups to determine the types of community activities in the area.
Service providers, such as GPs, mental health nurses, social care and commissioners of these services will be invited to take part in interviews. These confidential interviews will enable providers to discuss some of the challenges in designing and providing services in the rural area and the ways in which future plans are being made to address any unmet needs.
Geospatial PhD researcher Michele Giordano from The University of Nottingham’s Geospatial Institute said: “We will introduce the human geography of dementia with the aim to analyse connections between people needs, facilities and land topography. Data from service providers will be collected in order to locate those on a visual map and give free public access to it. At the same time, information from interviewers will be matched to evaluate how difficult is to reach people and places across the year. This aspect involves road networks, public transport, weather conditions, time slots, people feelings, needs, etc”. Building such a kind of framework will give us a chance to better evaluate how it is possible to improve people’s experiences of living with dementia and to help design facilities relevant to rural living and working.”
Anyone interested in more information or participating in the trial can contact Dr Fiona Marshall on 0115 823 1294 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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