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3 million for dementia research: Windesheim closes gap between theory and practice

    Thursday 10 November 2022
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One in five people will be diagnosed with it: dementia. People with dementia and their loved ones cannot live without help and support. Yet few products and services find their way to the person with dementia and his or her loved ones, to the detriment of their quality of life. That's why the SPREAD+ partnership will be conducting research into practical support for dementia in the coming years. As part of this project, Simone de Bruin, professor of the research group of Living well with Dementia, translates scientific results into practice.

There are now over 290,000 people with dementia, care costs are exceeding 10 billion a year and the number of people with dementia will more than double in the next 30 years. It’s a diagnosis that changes your life drastically. And everyone's dementia progresses differently. At first, for instance, you can often still make decisions or drive a car by yourself. But eventually mental and physical abilities decline, while incomprehensible behaviour and concomitant disorders may increase. This has a huge impact on the quality of life of people with dementia and their near and dear ones.

Customized solutions

The tricky thing about dementia is that differences between individuals are considerable and so are their needs. And these may also vary from day to day. Marjolein de Vugt, SPREAD+ project leader and director of the Alzheimer Centre Limburg, therefore emphasizes the importance of the project: "People with dementia often have many years to live after their diagnosis. So there's a lot to gain in quality of life by coming up with solutions that are customized and applicable in practice. This is why people with dementia and their needs are central to our research, as are healthcare professionals whom we involve and train intensively. It’s quite unique that with this consortium we are joining forces in the Netherlands to really make a difference in the lives of people with dementia and their loved ones."

Research involving and for the benefit of the professional field and education

And this difference is achieved in part by using practice-based research, which is precisely the strength of universities of applied sciences like Windesheim. In this collaboration, the question is: how can we apply the results of dementia research in care (education), society and business? Professor Simone de Bruin: "In this way, we want to ensure that new knowledge is directly incorporated and used in education and practice. Currently, knowledge is often available, but the translation from theory to practice is not always successful. But also the other way round: knowledge to be developed doesn’t always match questions from education and practice." In short, Simone and her colleague Gili Yaron will therefore work within SPREAD+ to improve the alignment between education, practice and science.

National Dementia strategy

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport wants to incentivize research on dementia in the years to come. A total of 140 million in research funding is available. SPREAD+ (Sustainable and PeRsonalisEd Advances in Dementia care) will start as the second project and is led by the Alzheimer Centre Limburg of the MUMC+ (Prof. Marjolein de Vugt), Radboudumc Alzheimer Centre/UKON (Prof. Debby Gerritsen), University Network Eldercare UMC Groningen (Prof. Sytse Zuidema) and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences (Dr Simone de Bruin). Tilburg University, Trimbos Institute, Alzheimer Centre Amsterdam, UNO Amsterdam, Expertise Centre Pharos, Erasmus Alzheimer Centre and Zuyd, Utrecht and Inholland universities of applied sciences are also partners in this collaboration project. With the help of Health~Holland, several practice organizations and companies will join the project in 2023 as well.

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