Three UCL research teams have been awarded multimillion pound funding for programmes that could make a significant difference to patients' and carers' quality of life.
In 2013, three UCL groups launched major new research programmes designed to generate rapid benefits for dementia patients and their carers.
The MARQUE (Managing Agitation and Raising Quality of Life) programme, led by Professor Gill Livingston, is focusing on the distressing and common agitation experienced by patients with moderate to severe dementia. Generally linked to the inability to express an unmet need, agitation has a great impact on quality of life and is highly challenging for carers. An interdisciplinary team is carrying out a trial of an intervention developed to ensure that the culture of care homes minimises agitation, as well as pilot studies of an approach designed to improve quality of life for carers and patients in the last six months of life.
The PRIDE (Promoting Independence in Dementia) study, led by Professor Martin Orrell, targets those in early stages of dementia. One aim is to use data from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing (ELSA) to investigate the social and lifestyle factors associated with cognitive decline and its consequences for individuals' sense of wellbeing. New questions will be added to future rounds of ELSA data collection, to capture additional information about cognitive decline, and people's expectations and experiences. A complementary aim is to develop a social intervention to promote behaviours found to protect against cognitive decline, identified by consultation with people with dementia and their carers and by review of published evidence. The intervention will be evaluated in a multicentre clinical trial.
The 'Seeing what they see' study, led by Dr Sebastian Crutch, is addressing an underappreciated aspect of Alzheimer's disease - loss of visual skills. Impaired visual perception can significantly interfere with everyday life, and lead to falls, hallucinations and poor diet. The interdisciplinary project will focus on patients with posterior cortical atrophy, a form of Alzheimer's disease in which vision is particularly affected. By characterising these and other Alzheimer's patients in an artificial domestic environment, developed by UCL's Engineering Department, the project aims to identify practical adaptations and coping strategies that can be then be evaluated in a trial based in patients' homes and care homes.