My passion for dementia research

murnaMy research area

My research area has been about developing and testing interventions (care practices, services or training) to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia and their families.  I completed my BSc in psychology at University College Dublin and a PhD in psychology at the University of Vermont.  I was fortunate to do a postdoctoral fellowship in mental health and ageing at Pennsylvania State University before taking up a research post at the University of Stirling.  For the last 20 years I have been a Professor in Dementia Studies at the University of Bradford.

Current activities and projects

I am currently finalising the proofs of our final report to the National Institute for Health Research on our research programme about improving early detection and treatment of health conditions in residents living in care homes with nursing.  We are also collaborating on an intervention study to improve home care for people living with dementia; through setting goals and co-design of training for family carers and home care workers.  My most recent PhD students have focused on living with dementia and comorbidities in the community and in care home settings.

What drives me in this research? How do I keep motivated?

I believe in the power of research to make a difference to how we provide care and develop and evaluate services for people living with dementia.  I have seen how we can use research evidence to: raise awareness in the community and in professional circles about the rights and needs of people living with dementia; to amplify the voice of people living with dementia and their families; and, increasingly, to work alongside people with dementia and their families to define the challenges they face and identify potential solutions.

How does my research contribute to knowledge about dementia?

I have sought in my research to access and amplify the experience of living with dementia, from the perspective of people with dementia and their family carers.  I’ve been interested in how to improve the experience of living with dementia from the early recognition that cognitive changes are taking place through to living with profound physical and mental frailty and bereavement.

Following retiring from my substantive post at the University of Bradford at the end of 2020 I will continue editing the Jessica Kingsley Good Practice Guides on dementia, as Emeritus Professor.  This will provide a forum for research to contribute to knowledge about living as well as possible with dementia.

Prof Murna Downs. University of Bradford. Dec14 2020