University teams up with National Association of Local Councils for groundbreaking research on dementia

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and the University of Plymouth are to undertake groundbreaking research on dementia in local (parish and town) councils.

NALC and the University believe that England's 10,000 local councils play an important role within communities to offer solutions to help tackle dementia. The research will aim to find out precisely what local councils are doing to help support their communities in relation to dementia.

The project begins today, 24 February 2020 and will last around two months, during which time an extensive survey will be completed by local councils. Once the data is collected and analysed, a joint report will be published, which will summarise what local councils are doing and make recommendations on what they can do to help make their communities healthier.

Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, said:

"This cutting-edge research led by Ian Sherriff BEM is an interesting opportunity to get more insight on what local councils are doing, but more importantly, on how we can support them to level-up and help the most vulnerable in their communities.”

There are currently around 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, putting a strain on health services and families and carers. For the person living with dementia, it can trigger loneliness, confusion and isolation. It is essential for those living in rural areas that local councils create a community where residents have an active lifestyle and feel safe and supported.

Ian Sherriff, the University’s Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia said:

“Back in 2012 I started working with teams in the South Hams to set up dementia friendly parishes around the Yealm. With this initiative, we showed that local councils have the potential to make an enormous difference to the lives of those living with dementia, their families and friends, particularly when combined with a caring, dedicated and enthusiastic community.

“This research will look at what such councils are currently doing, in order to guide a national strategy to encourage and support them to help their constituents.”

Ian Sherriff is a leading figure in dementia policy at a local, national and international level, having an influence both through his involvement in research, and as an expert on bodies such as the Prime Minister’s Dementia Friendly Communities Challenge Group and the Prime Minister’s Rural Dementia Group, which he chairs.

Internationally, as Chair of the Dementia Air Transport Group (2016–2020), he has worked with the Civil Aviation Authority, the aviation industry and people with dementia to introduce new CAA guidelines (2016) to assist passengers with hidden disabilities.

Ian Sherriff

As Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University of Plymouth Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Ian Sherriff has been involved in numerous projects designed to improve the lives of people with dementia. His work includes an ambition to support communities to become more dementia-friendly. In particular he is passionate about supporting rural communities to better support people with dementia.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“Ian has been, and remains, one of the foremost champions for our cause. We are therefore delighted to welcome Ian as a new member of our Ambassador team. The knowledge and experience that he brings is invaluable and over the years he has built up significant networks with people with dementia and their carers and families, volunteers, politicians, journalists, academics and health and social care professionals."

Ian is part of the core team investigating how to introduce dementia support workers into GP surgeries

The ultimate aim of the £2.7 million project is to improve the quality of life for dementia patients and their carers.

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NIHR PenARC

NIHR ARC South West Peninsula (also known as PenARC) is the National Institute of Health Research's (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) South West Peninsula, and is a partnership between the Universities of Plymouth, University of Exeter and NHS and Local Authority organisations across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. PenARC was first established as a CLAHRC in 2008 and is now part of a national network of 15 NIHR-funded ARCs.

The partnership supports and funds research with direct impact on patients’ health and the way in which NHS care is delivered, conducting research based on questions from those directly affected: doctors, nurses, therapists and, importantly, patients. The partnership has been highly successful in utilising match funding to access support for our research projects from other sources and external partners.