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Alzheimer's Society £2 million grant to draw expertise from local charity RICE

Press release issued: 26 June 2017

Alzheimer's Society has announced that it has committed almost £2 million as part of its biggest-ever single investment in dementia care research and Professor Julian Hughes, RICE Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at the University of Bristol was a co-applicant on the grant.

The research grant awarded to the University of Exeter will be invested over five years and will enable expert researchers at the University to create a 'Centre of Excellence'. The Centre will focus on improving quality of life for people with dementia and boost the number of researchers working in the dementia care field.

The Bath-based charity, RICE (The Research Institute for the Care of Older People) located on the same site as the Royal United Hospital (RUH) is involved in this exciting project. Both Professor Roy Jones, Director of RICE and Honorary Professor at the University of Bristol and Professor Julian Hughes were co-applicants on the proposal to secure the funding from the Alzheimer’s Society. They are delighted to be involved with this innovative and important study which will help determine what, in some circumstances, could help people with dementia live better lives. The study will draw on some of the expertise that Professor Hughes has built up looking after people living with dementia in care homes towards the end of their lives.

Professor Hughes said: "It will be a delight to work with the team from Exeter University, who are now formidable in terms of their expertise and experience. The importance of care, now, for people living with dementia cannot be emphasized enough. We hope that this study will really shed some light on how we can enable and support people to live well with dementia even as the condition worsens."

Colin Capper, Alzheimer's Society Head of Research Development, added: "Dementia is set to be the 21st century's biggest killer and there is currently no cure. With 850,000 people currently living with dementia, and this number only expected to rise, the need to provide good care for people with dementia is urgent. However, current care practices are not always at the standard people with dementia deserve, with people experiencing issues such as a poor quality of life.

"Today we are laying the foundations for building networks of internationally recognised researchers in dementia care in the UK. We are making major investments that will contribute a great deal towards improving care and support for people affected by dementia."

The University of Exeter's research grant will fund a second phase of a large-scale national study entitled Improving the Experience of Dementia and Enhancing an Active Life (IDEAL). Running since 2014, it aims to understand how to help people to live well with dementia by taking into account the experiences of people with dementia and their carers over six years.

The study is collaboration with the universities of Cardiff, Brunel, Bangor, Newcastle and Sussex, and with King’s College London, RICE and the London School of Economics and Innovations in Dementia CIC.

It comprises 1,570 people with mild-to-moderate dementia and 1,300 carers. The participants were interviewed by specialised researchers at their homes initially between 2014 and 2016 and then again after 12 and 24 months.

Along with allowing the study to run for a further three years, this funding will allow the researchers to add the experiences of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds and people in the advanced stages of dementia. At the end of the study the researchers will use their findings to set out guidelines for how to help people affected by dementia to have the best possible quality of life.

Professor Linda Clare, of the University of Exeter, who leads the research programme, said: "This funding allows us to lead a national collaboration to improve quality of life for people with dementia. It is vitally important that people with dementia are able to live as well as possible. The Centre of Excellence will support that urgent priority, and our research will significantly improve our understanding of what factors influence people with dementia having a good quality of life as the condition progresses. This will help us to develop strategies and initiatives that will make a real improvement for people living dementia at different stages of their condition."

71-year-old Jane Barnes from Sidmouth was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2015. She feels that it's important to know what help is available for people to live well and remain active and independent following their diagnosis. She said: "Things haven't really changed since I received my diagnosis. I think that's a good thing. My friends and my husband are very supportive. That helps.

 "I don't beat myself up if I don't know the date. I don't feel as though I've lost something by not getting the day or the date right. For me, maintaining the friendships with people I've known for a long time is essential. That continuity is helpful. I think it's also imperative to keep on the move, and to socialise, even just going for a little walk feels beneficial. For me that helps improve my quality of life. After all, it's better than being stuck indoors all day feeling sorry for myself. That would be soul destroying."

Alzheimer's Society's unique investment will allow more researchers to address some of the most pressing issues in dementia care research and put the UK on track to be a world leader in providing the best care possible for people with dementia. As a local charity with international significance, RICE is excited to be a part of this innovative project.

Further information

  • Dementia care research ensures that people who are affected by dementia today are able to receive the highest standard of care. It focuses on gathering and generating evidence about what works well, what doesn’t and how barriers can be overcome to translate research into improved care and support.
  • Three research grants of up to £2 million each are to be invested over five years at the University of Exeter, Newcastle University and University College London.

About RICE

  • RICE - The Research Institute for the Care of Older People has been helping older people live better lives since 1985. 
  • The charity grew out of the recognition that, due to their age, older people were often excluded from taking part in research studies, for example with new drugs. Yet it was older people who were most likely to receive many of those drugs once they had been approved, which in some cases led to serious adverse effects.
  • Today, RICE focuses on research, diagnosis, treatment and support into neurodegenerative diseases in older people.
  • RICE provides clinical and academic research which contributes to national and international knowledge of dementia.
  • RICE's ultimate ambition is to help find more effective treatments and ultimately a cure for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
  • RICE also provides support services to help reduce distress, agitation, disorientation and anxiety for our patients with dementia and to support their families and carers.
  • In 2015 RICE launched DementiaPlus Appeal to raise a minimum of £1m by 2019- The capital will provide an internationally renowned dementia research and treatment Centre of Excellence located in the South West by expanding and developing the current facilities.
  • RICE's combined research and support services enable older people, especially those with dementia, to live better lives with the respect and dignity they deserve.
  • RICE is based on the same site as The Royal United Hospital (RUH) located in Bath although independent from the District General Hospital (DGH). The RUH is paramount for the charity’s collaboration with other health organisations, services providers and charities as RICE has direct access to vital medical equipment, services and patients which builds our research, services and attracts further partnerships.
  • RICE provides much-valued services for local people and in addition serves a much greater geographical area seeing patients from Salisbury, Devon, Wiltshire, Bristol and other areas of the UK.
  • To support RICE or for more information please contact Cate Everitt on 01225 476 420 or visit:

About Alzheimer's Society

  • Alzheimer's Society is the UK's leading dementia charity. We provide information and support, fund research, campaign to improve care and create lasting change for people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Dementia devastates lives. Alzheimer's Society research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. By 2021, 1 million people will be living with the condition. This will soar to two million by 2051.
  • Dementia deaths are rising year on year and 225,000 will develop dementia this year - that's one every three minutes.
  • Dementia costs the UK economy over £26 billion per year. This is the equivalent of more than £30,000 per person with dementia. 
  • Alzheimer's Society funds research into the cause, care, cure and prevention of all types of dementia and has committed to spend at least £150 million on research over the next decade. This includes a £50 million investment in the UK's first dedicated Dementia Research Institute.
  • Until the day we find a cure, Alzheimer's Society will be here for anyone affected by dementia - wherever they are, whatever they're going through. Everything we do is informed and inspired by them.
  • Let's take on dementia together. Volunteer. Donate. Campaign for change. Whatever you do, unite with us against dementia. 
  • Alzheimer's Society relies on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0330 333 0804 or visiting  
  • Alzheimer's Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit  
  • Alzheimer's Society YouTube channel
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