Brain Sciences


COOM campaign impacts public perception on people living with dementia

Kailey Nolan, Communications Manager for Created Out of Mind, is helping to change the way dementia is portrayed and perceived amongst people living with this condition, carers and the public.


13 September 2018

For the past two years, Kailey has been responsible for delivering a strategic communications plan for Created Out of Mind (COOM), a team aiming to explore, challenge and shape perceptions and understanding of dementias through science and the creative arts.

Her main objective is to bring together the core aims, research and activities of the COOM team in to order to develop new narratives of dementias informed by diverse perspectives and across broad audiences. These include people living with dementias and their loved ones, researchers, charities, cultural institutions, policy makers, the media and the public.

The team, led by Sebastian Crutch, Professor at UCL Dementia Research Centre, has included people experiencing dementias, as well as psychologists, visual artists, neuroscientists, writers, musicians, practitioners, broadcasters, sociologists, designers and computer scientists.

According to Professor Crutch, the project’s objective is to inform and influence the public narrative about the dementias.

“Kailey’s communications and public engagement strategy is therefore a common strand across all COOM projects,” said Professor Crutch.

“Her start-to-finish strategic oversight and delivery of the communications element of COOM has generated prominent broadcast pieces in digital and traditional media and a programme of diverse and innovative campaigns that have reached and engaged new communities and audiences,” he said.

Launched in October 2016, the COOM team are led by the Dementia Research Centre (Institute of Neurology, UCL) and were the second residents in The Hub - a unique, creative space at Wellcome Collection in London.

Over the 22-month residency, the communications programme Kailey designed included 15 events, inviting the public to be part of new conversations about dementias; five exhibitions, showing how the arts can provide insights into dementias and support people living with a dementia; and 32 talks and workshops by COOM collaborators at national and international conferences sharing research objectives, insights and outcomes.

Kailey’s communications programme involved raising COOM’s media profile, successfully gaining coverage in multiple high-profile print and broadcast media channels.

“Ultimately enriching public perceptions has wider societal benefits for people experiencing dementias, and our work to educate high-profile media partners, such as the BBC, The Guardian, and The Telegraph, is key to informing the public narrative.”

Kailey’s communications programme also called for the promotion of community action from within Wellcome itself. To achieve this, Kailey encouraged staff to undertake Dementia Friends Training, as well as developing opportunities for Wellcome staff to engage with lived experiences of dementias which included pop-up stalls with audio installations and stories from people living with dementias.

“By increasing understanding about dementias through our public engagement, such as events, podcasts and films, we equip communities to better support people living with dementias.

“It’s also important to provide people living with dementias with the tools to advocate for their own rights where possible and to provide a more inclusive representation of what it means to live with a dementia,” said Kailey.