I’ve spent the past couple of hours with Jane and Mary from the Farming Life Centre, Blackwell, Derbyshire building a dedicated Facebook and wordpress website. Jane and Mary have provided essential help whilst I provided cookies (the oaty ones not the computer type) So here goes…..
I’m really lucky to be fullly funded by the Alzhimer’s Society to undertake a 4 year study which will examine rural dementia. This is a new venture for the Alzheimer’s Society who recently decided to allocate research funding to care in addition to the more biochemical research.
Why rural dementia? Well we know a fair amount about urban care because the majority of studies have tended to take place in the immediate vicinity of universities and organisations which are located in the cities. Models of care, including the design and delivery of services for families affected by dementia have tended to pay scant attention to the challenges of rural living. We know that rural services cost more to deliver than urban and that this has an impact on the range of services. In these times of austerity rural care will inevitably have to show real value for money.
This research intends to contribute to the growing body of knowledge which is examining the design and delivery of rural services. We know that urban models tend not to work particularly well in rural areas for many reasons. Some of these reasons may be clear and others more opaque. Infrastructures such as reliable regular transport to local GPs and shops are key to older people remaining independent, fuel costs for heating and cooking tend to much higher in rural areas because of the reliance on oil, housing costs are higher in the most picturesque parts of the UK because of the demand for second homes and rural idylls, the demographics lean towards more older people and less young families which impact upon the availability of care givers. And the list goes on.
The more hidden reasons are ones which may be common regardless of where you live; pride and resilience, stigma of dementia, having to carry on in work, multiple types of illness and isolation. A weekly social meeting can make all the difference to feeling well or feeling rotten and isolated.
So this work aims to highlight some of those issues and to share them with key organisations so that services can be designed and delivered and sustained in ways which truly fit rural communities.