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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

New multi-million research project to improve quality of life for dementia patients

Elderly man having blood pressure checked by young doctor

A new €7.5 million research project involving a team of academics from Queen’s University Belfast seeks to improve the care and quality of life for those with advanced dementia living in care homes.

People with advanced dementia who live and die in nursing homes experience varying quality of life and care. There is an urgent need to identify appropriate interventions that facilitate high-quality end-of-life care provision.

A collaborative European project, ‘In-Touch’, will be coordinated by University College Cork and will recruit 56 care homes across seven European countries to determine its effect on comfort, social engagement, and quality of life.

The results aim to create major change in the way that care for people with advanced dementia, in the palliative phase of their illness, is provided across Europe.

Receiving funding of nearly one million euros, the Queen’s team will lead the evaluation to determine the best conditions for applying the intervention in different contexts across the continent.  

The team will be led by Professor Kevin Brazil, Professor of Palliative Care from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s, he said:

“Caring for the increasing numbers of people with advanced dementia and palliative care needs who live in care homes is difficult and demanding. Family members can find it challenging to connect meaningfully with their relatives and are anxious about the future. Care staff can struggle to provide care other than for basic needs such as feeding, toileting and skin care.

“People with advanced dementia deserve to have a better quality of life as they approach death, improved engagement and reduced social isolation. This new research project will ensure care staff will have an ethically sound and evidence-based intervention that is cost-effective to implement, with family members more involved in, and knowledgeable about, comfort care and future care plans.”

Professor Nicola Cornally, Senior Lecturer and Director of Research and Innovation from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork said:

“There’s a critical need for a non-pharmacological intervention for people with advanced dementia that can improve quality of life.

“In-Touch brings together two complementary evidence-based interventions, considering the needs of both the person living with advanced dementia and their family, right through to the end of life.

“The project will help us have an immediate positive impact on the well-being of people with advanced dementia and it should reduce social isolation and improve engagement in meaningful person-centred activities.”

Working alongside Professor Brazil and Professor Cornally will be Drs Gary Mitchell, Julie Doherty and Roisin O’Neill from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast, as well as Professor Suzanne Timmons, Consultant Geriatrician and Principal Investigator in the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation from the School of Medicine, University College Cork.

The project is funded by the European Commission and Queen’s University Belfast researchers are funded by the UKRI Horizon Europe Guarantee Fund.


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