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Professor champions ‘collaborative approach’ to improve dementia care

Bradford alumnus to lead internationally acclaimed Dementia Centre

As the new director of the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies at the University of Bradford, Professor Siobhan Reilly brings with her years of health and social care research experience.

For her, it’s a case of ‘coming full circle’ because this is also where she began her academic career and she says she plans to continue her work improving the lives of people with dementia.

Prof Reilly studied in Bradford from 1988-91, gaining a BSc from the School of Management. She will take up the role of Director of the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies and Chair in Applied Dementia Research, Faculty of Health Studies from August.

Her approach to dementia care is multidisciplinary and collaborative, allowing the cross-pollination of skills from one sector to another.

Commenting on the move, she said: “I am passionate about improving dementia care, practice and enabling services to develop and implement interventions that will improve the lives of people living with dementia. This position will build on my previous work providing an ideal platform to develop new forms of collaborative work and impact around dementia care research.

“I am looking forward to developing the Centre’s excellent track record. I enjoy mixing my scientific skills along with creativity and enthusiasm for multidisciplinary collaborative ageing research using a wide range of research methods. I will therefore be keen to develop collaborations at the Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research.”

Prof Reilly is leaving her post as senior lecturer at Lancaster University, where she led two major five-year mixed method research programmes in the Neighbourhoods and Dementia study, one examining what matters most for people with dementia living at home and another developing the evidence base for evaluating dementia training in NHS hospitals.

She said: “Much of my research has highlighted the inequalities of health and social care for people with severe mental illness, those with long term conditions and people living with dementia. Over the years, the goal of my research programme has been to improve the quality of care and the evidence base for the delivery of health and social care services for these groups.

“Most recently, along with the research team at Lancaster University, we have identified 13 outcome items that distil the most important aspects of life; they emphasise the importance of living well with dementia, keeping communicating, keeping as active and connected as possible and having a laugh. These items will provide commissioners and service planners with information on what types of interventions are most likely to be valued highly by people living with dementia. We hope this study will ensure that researchers consistently measure what really matters to people living with dementia.”

“I am very excited to be returning after 30 years and joining the vibrant team at the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies. Likewise, I Iook forward to being able to bring all my experience into this role, as well as giving something back to Bradford itself. A full circle, so to speak.”