Researchers in Nottingham to find out if the arts can help fight dementia


Rodney Fogg with wife Pamela
                               A £5 million investment will give new researchers the chance to help the fight against dementia. Nottingham is one of the places to benefit. Health Correspondent Peter Blackburn reports.
RODNEY Fogg has seen the huge difference a simple sing-a-long can make first hand.
People who have been previously made unlikely to speak, smile, or even move, due to their dementia can tap their hand on their legs, remember lyrics with a joyous look on their faces and even spring to their feet.
What was once a dour nursing home can become a place of hope and families suddenly get a glimpse of what their loved one used to be like before the onset of the degenerative disease.


“I am quite impressed by how music does affect people who have dementia,” Mr Fogg - who lives in Radcliffe-on-Trent said.
“When Pamela was having day treatment and day care some of the events that were put on by organisations involved sing a longs and adult choirs and things like that involving not only the people suffering from dementia but their supporters and relatives with them too. A lot of that was trying to pick music and tunes familiar to them from their past.
“People who are quite dour usually will suddenly respond - they might tap their legs, or even start dancing and get animated - there is clearly something there that triggers something pleasant and comfortable. It’s a joy really - you don’t get a lot of response from people with dementia and to get some sort of reaction is quite nice and quite rewarding.”
It is people like Rodney, and his wife Pamela, who could be helped in the future by a new scheme that has received £5 million - including some money in Nottingham.
The money will pay for a new research ‘hub’ looking at how painting, puppetry, singing and other arts can improve dementia.
The project which will be based at both the University of Nottingham and University of Worcester has been paid for by the ALzheimer’s Society and will support six new PhD students to investigate the impact of creative arts activities on people living with dementia in residential homes and in the community.
The results will then be used to influence treatment and care given to people with the disease.
Professor Justine Schneider, lead researcher for the project at Nottingham University said: “We know that activity groups can help people with dementia and their carers to stay socially connected and to enjoy a better quality of life, but there has been very little research done to show the value of creative arts activities.
“The project will train PhD students to develop a strong evidence base for the use of arts in dementia, highlighting which types of activities bring the most benefit and at what stage in the dementia journey, helping to guide the development of future services.”
The training centre will be one of eight new centres across the UK that will explore different areas of dementia research. Collectively they will support 55 new PhD students and clinical research fellows over three years, giving a huge boost to the numbers of researchers working in dementia.
Mr Fogg said: “It could be really valuable. it just depends how far they can take it.”
Pippa Foster, Operations Manager for Alzheimer’s Society in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire said: ‘There’s a huge amount of progress being made by the dementia research community but unless we attract and train the best young talent we will limit how quickly we can make ground breaking discoveries. For too long dementia research has been underfunded and as a result we have significantly fewer scientists than other conditions, with six times more people working in cancer than dementia.
‘If we’re going to defeat dementia we need to give the best brains the right opportunities and build a research workforce that is fit for the future. That’s why we’re proud to be announcing the largest investment of its kind, which will see £5 million committed to create the next generation of dementia researchers. This hub in Nottingham and Worcester is a vital and innovative part of that, and we are particularly excited to discover more about how creative arts can help people with dementia to live better lives.”



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