Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Valuing Active Life in Dementia Implementation Training Day in Sheffield

VALID final training day photo august 2016
Sheffield Occupational Therapists met up to reflect on their participation in the Valuing Active Life in Dementia research study. Also to consider how the Community Occupational Therapy in Dementia – UK intervention can best be implemented in to UK occupational therapy clinical practice. The day was facilitated by occupational therapy researchers Laura Di Bona and Jane Burgess. The general consensus was that this intervention offers a lot of potential to improve the lives of people affected by dementia and enables occupational therapists to demonstrate the unique contribution of their profession.

The ‘ValuingActive Life in Dementia’ (VALID) study is looking at the possible benefits of a programme of occupational therapy for people who have been diagnosed with dementia and those who regularly support them. 

Maintaining both everyday and interesting pleasurable activities can be difficult for people with dementia as well as for those who support them. Occupational therapists assist people to continue to participate in activities despite the difficulties that they might be experiencing. They do this by helping people to try new ways of doing things. Some examples of activities are: joining a local group (like a walking group, or a lunch club), continuing to work in the garden, staying in touch with friends, or doing jobs around the house.  They can also assist people to explore new activities.  

Researchers in the Netherlands found that providing this occupational therapy programme could benefit both the person with dementia and their supporter. It was also shown to be a good use of money. 

The UK research team have developed a similar occupational therapy programme to meet the needs of people living in this country. We are now testing whether this UK programme is beneficial. We are carrying out a randomised controlled trial of the clinical and cost effectiveness of the Community Occupational Therapy in Dementia –UK intervention.

Publications so far:
       Hynes, S., et al., (2015) Exploring the need for a new UK occupational therapy intervention for people with dementia and family carers: Community Occupational Therapy in Dementia (COTiD). A focus group study. Aging & Mental Health, DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2015.1037243
       Swinson, T., et al. (2016)Community occupational therapy for people with dementia and their family carers: A national survey of United Kingdom occupational therapy practice. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, Vol. 79, (No. 2) pp85-91
       Wenborn, J. et al., (2016) Community occupational therapy for people with dementia and family carers (COTiD-UK) versus treatment as usual (Valuing Active Life in Dementia [VALID] programme): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. 17:65 DOI: 10.1186/s13063-015-1150-y

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Think Ahead SURE Scheme Summer Placement with AcTo Dementia

Ella Davenport, an undergraduate Psychology student at The University of Sheffield, recently completed a summer vacation scholarship working within CATCH on the AcTo Dementia project. This scholarship was organised by Think Ahead SURE(Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience) and funded by the EPSRC(Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council). In this article, Ella discusses her experience joining the research team and working on this project.

After reaching my second year of university, and still unsure as to what career path I wanted to pursue, the Think Ahead SURE scheme offered me the opportunity to gain valuable research experience. Following an application process, I was lucky enough to be selected to work with Phil Joddrell on the AcTo dementia project. The project includes a website, which suggests apps that are accessible for people with dementia and which they may enjoy playing. In order to identify such apps, a review criteria has been developed to evaluate the appropriateness of the apps, based on their customisation options and presence of advertisements among others things.

The objective of my placement was to identify at least 20 apps using this review criteria and write reviews for each of these, to be published on the AcTo Dementia website. These apps included both classic games, such as Chess and Hangman (pictured), as well as novel games including 1010 (pictured) and Stack Box. When writing the reviews, I included the pros and cons of each app and the recommended settings; for example, whether the user would be able to change the background colour and if this would improve the contrast and clarity of the game. In addition to identifying games people may enjoy, I also looked into other types of downloadable apps, such as those focused on music and cookery, to provide more variety for people visiting the website.

Alongside using the review criteria, I have also been evaluating its reliability. I have looked at the inter-rater reliability between the many people who have used these criteria, generally finding values of above 0.8, which are considered very respectable.  The end of the scheme is marked by a conference style, academic presentation for other students on the Think Ahead SURE scheme. This will be good experience, as I feel this summer has furthered my interest in postgraduate study, which would require me to deliver presentations in this style, and answer questions on the spot.

I have enjoyed my time spent working within CATCH and alongside Phil, and have found it to be very valuable, teaching me more about life as a researcher and as a PhD student. In addition, I would highly recommend the Think Ahead SURE scheme, especially to students who are unsure as to what they want to go on to do. The scheme has allowed me to better my understanding of how research is conducted, including applications for funding and ethics. Finally, I would like to thank Phil and CATCH for a great 8 weeks, and making me feel so welcome.

Written by Ella Davenport

Friday, 26 August 2016

Consent Support Tool published!

We have published the Consent Support Tool, a practical resource designed to help health researchers seek informed consent from people with communication disorders. The tool provides a communication screening test, which researchers can use to identify potential participants’ communication needs. The tool then directs researchers to use specific strategies to support individuals to understand information about research studies and express themselves during the informed consent process. The Consent Support Tool has been used to enable the inclusion of patients with communication disorders in several NIHR-funded research studies since 2009 and its use has been approved by NHS Research Ethics Committees. Over 180 health professional and researchers have received training in how to use the tool.

A paper we published on our evaluation of the Consent Support Tool is available here:

Written by Mark Jayes and Dr Rebecca Palmer