Research on dementia is one of the three core professional activities undertaken at the DSIDC and since its establishment the Centre has led out on a number of significant national and local research projects, the findings from which have contributed to the development of public policy on dementia in the Republic of Ireland. These include the research review, funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and undertaken with colleagues from NUI Galway, to provide the evidence base to underpin the Irish National Dementia Strategy - a policy document launched by the government in December 2014. Other completed research projects include a more recent study conducted with Trinity Haus, (Trinity College) funded by the National Disability Authority and undertaken to develop national guidelines for architects designing and retrofitting home dwellings for people living with dementia (2015) and a national survey of nursing homes (2014) conducted to collect data on the numbers, location and type of care available in specialist dementia units throughout Ireland. In the same year (2014) findings from a national survey of memory clinics were also published. This study investigated the location, resourcing including staff composition, waiting time and numbers of patients in attendance at memory clinics.
Earlier completed research projects include a study of cognitive impairment and quality of life in long term residential care (2011); a study of dementia prevalence in Dublin metropolitan nursing homes (2010) and an all Ireland project funded by CARDI which led to the development of guidelines for health service professionals delivering end of life care to people with dementia resident in nursing homes (2010), and a 2008 study examining the subjective experience of dementia amongst patients attending a first Memory Clinic appointment. In 2004 the Centre also undertook the first national survey of general practitioners in Ireland, a project which surveyed 600 GPs investigating their attitudes to the diagnosis and disclosure of dementia in primary care and which led to the publication of two important papers. The Centre has also completed evaluative research on respite care commissioned by Genio (2014) and an earlier research study conducted in collaboration with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland on day care respite services. All of these works can be downloaded from this website.
The opportunity for post-graduate students (Masters and PhD) to spend dedicated time researching the social and psychological aspects of dementia care was afforded to the DSIDC between 2007 to 2013 when it received a sizeable grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies to support an extensive research programme of biopsychosocial research titled "Living with Dementia". This programme has graduated six PhD students, Dr Emer Begley, Dr Andrea Bobersky, Dr Sarah Donnelly, Dr Ana Diaz Ponce, Dr Treena Parsons and Dr Janet Convery plus a large number of Masters students. PhD students’ projects have straddled three core thematic areas namely (i) long term care including housing with care and specialist care units, (ii) quality of life and pharmacological interventions and (iii) non-pharmacological interventions including reminiscence. These students are now employed in academic, policy and dementia related positions both nationally and internationally. Copies of post-graduate students PhD thesis are available in our library
Apart from its regular conferences, the DSIDC has also hosted a series of public seminars (22 to date), where expert local and international speakers have been invited to address specific topics thereby creating a forum for public debate on dementia. These events have attracted large audiences of health service professionals, family caregivers and more recently people living with dementia and have been delivered free of charge either at St James's Hospital or Trinity College. Topics addressed include reminiscence, end of life, qualtiy of life, memory clinics, the subjective experience of dementia, public attitudes to Alzheimer's disease, housing with care, assistive technology and dementia, specialist care units, cognitive stimulation therapy, mild cognitive impairment, stigma, dementia disclosure, caregiver burden, respite care, qualitative research methodology and dementia.
Based on its research effort, and building on its seminal manual written about dementia for health service professionals (Drury & Farrel, 2004), the DSIDC has also over recent years published a series of other small information kits or booklets designed to assist people living with dementia and their caregivers to cope with their often changing and complex worlds. Topics covered in these booklets, include coping with early stage dementia, adapting the home for cognitive impairments, finding a suitable nursing home for a relative with dementia and life for caregivers after placing a relative with dementia in long stay care. These booklets can be downloaded from this website.