Five months have passed in my new role as Professor of Family Care in Dementia. Not sure I can call it new for much longer! At this point a plan to develop Dementia Carers Count’s programme of research is well underway with two bids submitted led by me and three bids I have contributed to led by colleagues, which have a clear family carer element. These bids relate to enhancing care home culture and environments through development and engagement activities with staff, residents and family carers and enhancing social interactions through use of a dementia dog intervention. Now it is the waiting game to know if they were successful. Ah the life of a researcher! Either way, several more funding applications are in the pipeline over the next few months.
My draft research plan reflects issues of importance to Dementia Carers Count which half funds my appointment, as well as those of the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester where I am employed. Luckily for me I am surrounded by great talent and past work around research with and for family carers of persons with dementia, so I am not ‘starting with a blank sheet of paper’. The plan focuses on scoping what is already known and what are the gaps in research to do with family carer’s experiences, needs, interventions and outcomes. From this I will identify what gaps are for me to address and which are to collaborate with others to address. Some topics won’t be for me at all. I have started a process of consultation at the university and Dementia Carers Count to seek views and priorities. This exercise is involving a lot of posters and coloured sticky dots to get people talking! Everybody’s view matters – I guess that’s just the way we do thigs around here!
Beyond consultation within the above two organisations, I have secured university funding for a one-day Listening Event to seek views from the wider public about my plans. As a first step at external consultation, this event can only accommodate small numbers and is to be based in Birmingham, as this is where Dementia Carers Count is seeking to develop a national Carers Resource Centre, so it makes sense to start there. There will be many other ways to get involved over the coming months and years, including ways that are not face-to-face and as such are more inclusive for some carers. Watch this space for developments!
For more information you can contact me on Research@dementiacarers.org.uk or Tel 01905 542557
Professor Tracey Williamson PhD – DCC Professor of Family Care in Dementia