One of the government’s top scientific advisors spent two days in Boston, Skegness and Lincoln to understand the public health challenges of the region, and how research can help address them.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care and lead of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – the nation’s largest funder of health and social care research – met with the Council’s public health staff, representatives of Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) and Lincolnshire-based researchers.
As part of his visit, Prof Whitty learned about the Lincolnshire Joint Strategy for Dementia 2018-21 and met with researchers working on the Promoting Activity, Independence and Stability in Early Dementia (PrAISED) feasibility study in the region. The study aims to develop and test a therapy programme that will enable people to stay active and independent with dementia. Participants for the PrAISED study are being recruited through Join Dementia Research.
Join Dementia Research, is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and delivered in partnership with the NIHR, Alzheimer Scotland, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society.
It allows members of the public to enter basic demographic and health information into a system that matches members to new studies, making it easier to volunteer to participate in pioneering research.
In Lincolnshire, 290 volunteers have signed up to Join Dementia Research. LPFT was the first NHS Trust in the country to register as a whole organisation Join Dementia Research Champion.
Prof Whitty said: “It’s fantastic to see Lincolnshire Council, NHS Trusts and community get behind dementia research. It has been estimated that more 11,000 people aged over 65 in Lincolnshire have dementia. Research plays such a big role in the understanding of dementia and without members of the public participation, we wouldn’t be able to continue this work.
“For those wishing to be involved in, and to find out more about the Join Dementia Research programme visit www.joindementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk.”
Carol Duff, Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln’s School of Health and Social Care said: “It’s great to have the opportunity to work with Professor Rowan Harwood and the team at Nottingham University on such a large NIHR funded project like PrAISED that has the potential to influence future practice and commissioning.
“The design and scale of this study gives us real hope that investment in proactive support can improve the lives of people living with dementia and allow them to continue to live well for longer. The study has been well received in Lincolnshire and we have been using the Join Dementia Research platform to help us recruit.”
Derek Ward, Director of Public Health for Lincolnshire, said: “Lincolnshire is a large and dispersed rural and coastal county, and we have show Prof Whitty some of the ways we are doing things differently to deliver health improvement for people.
“We spoke about the challenges and the opportunities for research, and how we can work with the NIHR to consider different approaches outside of the more traditional labour hospital-based approaches.
“Ultimately, it’s important to ensure everybody is given the opportunity to lead healthy lives and access good services and facilities.”