National search for new ideas to improve the lives of people with dementia

National search for new ideas to improve the lives of people with dementia

Department of Health (National Release) August 2011

A national challenge that will fund teams to develop new design-led ideas for products and services that make lives simpler, better and more enjoyable for those with dementia and their carers was launched today by The Design Council and the Department of Health.

Living well with dementia will offer five teams a share of £360,000 alongside professional support to develop working prototypes and business models over the next five months. The challenge is aiming to recruit teams with a variety of expertise, including designers, social entrepreneurs, businesses, service providers, support groups or individuals who may already have good ideas.

The Design Council has launched a social network for those interested, to access extensive research on dementia, meet others to form teams, and download the call for entries: Details can also be found on the Design Council website
Commenting on the project, Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow said:

"Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face as the population ages. It currently affects 750,000 people in the UK and that number is set to double over the next thirty years.

"To make sure we continue to improve health outcomes and manage the growing costs associated with this, we need to think smart and do things differently.

"If diagnosed early and given the right support people with dementia can continue to live well for a number of years. By engaging with businesses and the third sector I hope we will stimulate some creative thinking about how best to help people with dementia get the most out of their lives, rather than just focusing on symptoms."

The submissions will be judged by an Advisory Board consisting of experts in dementia, health and social care, business and design and chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of International Longevity Centre.
Baroness Greengross explained what winning ideas the board is looking for:

"Innovative ideas are necessary if we are to meet the real needs of the growing numbers of people with dementia. This new, diverse, mixture of people coming together should give us an exciting set of proposals reflecting the urgency of need and the importance of creativity and innovation in meeting them."

David Kester, CEO of the Design Council said:

"This is an exciting opportunity for designers, businesses, communities to work on a project that will make such a difference to people's lives. We can see the stats around the issue but the reality of it is that dementia is something that will and does affect every family in Britain. Previous challenges have shown the impact design plays in addressing difficult social and health issues and I think teams will once again drive the innovation curve."

Living well with dementia has been welcomed by the Alzheimer's Society. Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes said:
"We need to see dramatic innovation in all areas of dementia care. Throwing down the gauntlet to such a wide range of experts has the potential to be the catalyst for real change - small or large - which could help transform the lives of the 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK. Dementia can affect anyone. However, with a timely diagnosis and the right help and support people can live well with the condition."

Living well with dementia follows similar national design challenges run by the Design Council to develop design-led solutions to social and healthcare issues. Recent examples have addressed improving patient privacy and dignity, reducing health care associated infections in wards and a current project: Reducing violence and aggression in A&E by design.

The closing date for entries is 30 September 2011 with final teams to be announced on the 14th of November 2011.

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