Families living with dementia in Surrey and Sussex are being invited to take part in a new project called Time for Dementia.
The study, led by Prof Sube Banerjee, Director of the Centre for Dementia Studies at BSMS, aims to help train future healthcare professionals and improve the way in which people with the illness are cared for by health services.
This project is the first of its kind and will involve 800 medical, nursing and paramedic students regularly meeting up with families affected by dementia over a two-year period. The students will spend up to two hours visiting a family three or four times a year in order to improve their knowledge, attitude and empathy towards dementia patients and their carers. There are currently 200 families from Surrey and Sussex involved in the programme and organisers hope to recruit a further 200 to take part.
Together with the University of Surrey, BSMS will be working in partnership with the Alzheimer's Society and the NHS to deliver this project, which is being funded by Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex (HEKSS).
The term dementia describes a set of symptoms, caused by disease damaging the brain, which affect patient's cognitive abilities such as their concentration, language and memory.
Over 850,000 people in the UK currently live with dementia and it is estimated 25 million know someone with the condition. In Sussex alone, over 25,000 people have dementia and this number is set to rise to 30,000 over the next 10 years.
"This is the most ambitious programme of its type anywhere in the world, and we envisage that it will change the way in which healthcare students of the future learn about dementia," said Prof Banerjee.
The Alzheimer's Society Project Manager for Time for Dementia, Sophie Mackrell added, "This programme gives the students a chance to learn from the experts on dementia – the people directly affected by the condition. It's a good way for them to gain knowledge first hand of what it's like living with dementia and the challenges they have to overcome."
Sign up to the 'Time for Dementia' project >