Blogs I’m watching and Resources Sept/Oct 2023

Is it time to reinvigorate old networks, asks the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) blog, which expresses scepticism about the resolve of UK governments (with the honourable exception of Scotland) to maintain the momentum of dementia policy.  It describes the demise of the Dementia Action Alliance national network as “effectively a deprioritisation of dementia since Cameron’s pledges in 2012 & 2014.”  Although the Westminster government has promised a Major Conditions Strategy that will include dementia, the IMH is clearly not convinced that this will build on the commitments of ex-PM David Cameron’s “Challenge on Dementia” which was the focus of dementia policy from 2012-2020.  The writer would like to see a revival of the “North Sea Dementia Group,” which brought together the university-based dementia services development centres both here and across Europe.  “Maybe it’s time to look to these dementia development centres again, especially as policy is becoming more devolved into regions (in UK),” the blog says.


As the row continued about the extension of London’s ULEZ (ultra-low emissions zone) across the capital, a well-timed Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) blogpost insisted that it was “time to clear the air on pollution and dementia.”  As it points out, the influential Lancet Commission was already listing pollution as one of 12 risk factors for dementia back in 2020.  Now two new studies have joined the fray, one from the US and the other from the UK.  The US study looked at small particulates in the atmosphere known as PM2.5, confirming the link between air pollution and dementia while also naming agriculture as a significant source along with industry and road traffic.  Meanwhile, the UK study found that exposure to common pollutants like particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide increased the use of mental health services by people living with dementia.  ARUK is putting its money where its mouth is by funding Dr Jake Brooks to unravel how air pollution particles enter the brain and cause Alzheimer’s disease.  “There’s growing body of evidence that suggests air pollution could also be putting us at a greater risk of developing dementia, but we don’t know how this happens,” Dr Brooks told the blog, “My research aims to show how tiny metal-containing pollution particles may accumulate and distribute in the brain, and how they associate with Alzheimer’s disease proteins like tau and amyloid.”



A fully online postgraduate certificate in person-centred dementia studies is open for applications at the University of Worcester.  The certificate, which reflects the requirements of the Dementia Training Standards Framework, focuses on leadership and how to make a difference in settings where students have influence.  There are modules on person-centred leadership, supporting people with advanced dementia, engagement and empowerment, person-centred care, enabling environments and dementia in the family context. (email

Guidance for care homes on nutrition and hydration has been produced by apetito.  The company says that its new free Guide to Catering for Specialist Diets in Your Care Home contains lots of useful information and guidance on best practice in catering for residents with dysphagia, dementia and allergies while also maintaining the quality and appeal of meals.

Alzheimer’s disease research on new treatments is too focused on amyloid build-up in the brain and doesn’t pay adequate attention to other promising research paths, according to a new bookAlzheimer’s Disease Research: What has guided research so far and why it is high time for a paradigm shift, by Professor Christian Behl, was published by Springer Nature in August.  In the book Professor Behl argues that it is time to re-evaluate the amyloid cascade hypothesis and raises questions about research strategies, the funding landscape and what he regards as a too narrow focus on one dominating hypothesis.

Would you like to learn how to deliver cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) as a group treatment for people living with mild to moderate dementia? This course teaches attendees to apply the key principles and is suitable for health care professionals including psychologists, occupational therapists and nurses as well as community-based organisations running meeting centres and day opportunities, health care assistants and managers within health and social care. Taught by Dr Helen Donovan, it is an online course via Zoom.

Dementia Summit is a new conference from the King’s Fund think tank around the theme “It’s Time to Talk about Dementia”.  Taking place at King’s Fund HQ in London on 31 October, the one day conference will include a “thought provoking programme” on education, research and care in dementia.  It will take place in the context of the government’s proposed 10 year plan for dementia and a planned £375 million investment in neurodegenerative disease research.

The government-based Office for Health Improvement and Disparities has produced a palliative and end of life care factsheet covering dementia as well as other conditions.  The factsheet describes patterns of care near the end of life for four of the six conditions that will be included in the government’s forthcoming Major Conditions Strategy – dementia, cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.  Statistics are provided in the document such as number of deaths, number of hospital admissions in the months before death, and place of death.

Dementia UK embroidered love cushions are available on Next’s online shop.  They are just £22 each and there are images of the cushions on the Next website.

Royal Star & Garter, which runs dementia specialist care homes, has produced top tips for organising safe trips out.  The tips, which can be downloaded, are aimed at anyone supporting someone living with a disability or dementia.  “We know that organising fun but safe trips out can be difficult so our team have put together some top tips for planning the perfect day for you and your loved ones,” says Royal Star & Garter.

Information on common side effects of dementia drugs and how they may affect the heart has been published on the Alzheimer’s Society website.  It says that drugs like cholinesterase inhibitors can result in side effects like a slow heartbeat, describing briefly the latest research and indicating how to deal with the side effects.

A free resource titled Be inspired – The role of music in dementia care has been produced by the charity Music as Therapy International.  It is designed to explore the role music can play in care and includes ideas, questions and inspiration for choosing the right music.  The resource is part of a new online training course, Music Helps, which the charity aims to launch later this year.