My Passion about Dementia Research
My current area of research interest is dementia care and particularly how to improve the quality of life for people with dementia through psychosocial interventions such as technology. I have four major programmes of research in this area, two being Marie Curie innovation networks on dementia care and technology (INDUCT and DISTINCT), which together support thirty early stage researchers doing PhDs across Europe. In the UK, the Promoting Independence In Dementia Programme (PRIDE) is evaluating an app to help people with their choices and decision making, and encourage them to do more meaningful activities in their lives. Lastly, the AQUEDUCT programme works with dementia crisis teams to help them develop a more evidence based and consistent approach to working with people with dementia and their families, hoping to reduce unnecessary admissions to hospital.
My research has particularly contributed to improving the lives of people with dementia through the cognitive stimulation therapy studies over the last 20 years, so that now CST for dementia is practiced in around 30 countries across the world. Also, I enjoy very much contributing to the INTERDEM Academy and the INTERDEM Board. INTERDEM provides a brilliant way to advance the thinking around psychosocial approaches to dementia, because in addition to doing research studies, we can look at the scientific models of how we understand dementia and generate ideas for future work. In particular, Amy Spector and I developed a practical version of the biopsychosocial model, which can be used to better understand the role of biomedical and psychosocial factors in the course of dementia.
When I started out doing research in dementia, it was a very underdeveloped area and I was aware of the great need for more work. Thankfully, I have been able to make a contribution over time, and I feel that helps me continue to be motivated. It is also very inspiring to work with PhD students and other researchers as their ideas and careers develop and progress. I am very lucky to be in a position where I have challenging, wonderful a job and want to be at the cutting edge of the field. Now, we are on the verge of making real a breakthrough in understanding how lifestyle factors may be able to reduce the risk of dementia but also help people with the illness live better for longer.
Professor Martin Orrell