Health agencies and academics come together to improve the care of older people in Leicestershire
LASA won £1500 prize money last year for their work upskilling those with caring responsibilities
By Elliot Leadbetter
Health agencies and academics across Leicestershire and Rutland are working on a joint project to improve the care and treatment given to the elderly.
The Leicester Academy for the Study of Ageing (LASA) is a collaborative project between the University of Leicester, De Montfort University, the University Hospitals of Leicester and the Leicestershire Partnership trust, along with Age UK.
The aim of LASA is to co-ordinate research that focuses on individual elderly people to take into account all their needs when at the moment they may be getting support from separate agencies. This includes not just their physical health issues, but their mental health as well.
Chairman of the group, Professor Simon Conroy from the University of Leicester, said: “We are going to really try and improve outcomes for older people.
“The way we are going to do that is through developing the capacity and competence of LLR, by bringing in or nurturing existing staff and people within the area to be better equipped with the knowledge, skills and behaviours to care for older people.”
Another key member of the group, Katie Bell, research assistant at De Montfort University (DMU), added: “The aim of the groups is to provide advice and guidance to academics and professionals working on projects or strategic change within older adult care.
“We are inviting researchers or professionals to submit their proposed or current work in relation to research into older people for review to receive advice and guidance on their design and methodology.
“Projects that gain support from LASA are allocated a sponsor from each of the forums who will guide the project at all stages of its development.”
The health care system in the UK is often praised for the way in which it deals with individual problems; however, older people can frequently possess more than one, such as dementia and mobility troubles.
LASA is striving to improve the way in which the existing services battle with these issues, bringing together a community of experts.
Professor of Older Peoples Health and Social Care at DMU, and the newly appointed Chair of LASA, Kay de Vries is an active researcher in the fields of end of life, old age and dementia care.
She gave an example of the work LASA is beginning to put into place.
“We will establish a Dementia Research Group under the auspices of LASA and be seeking funding for a number of dementia research projects that are as yet underdeveloped.
“We have recruited one PhD student, full-time, who will be associated with the LASA team and funded by Dementia UK.”
With regards to research for the older community, there is a large scope for change in the LLR area and more specifically what we can expect from LASA.
Professor Simon Conroy is confident of the impact LASA can have, adding: “I think there is a huge scope for change.
“Historically older people have not really been involved in clinical trials and research more generally and have often been excluded from studies, so therefore remain under-researched.
“Often we don’t know how a drug or certain treatment might work in the older population. There’s certainly an assumption it will be the same as in younger age groups but actually we don’t know that, so there’s huge opportunities.
Since LASA was founded in 2016, huge steps towards improved care for older people have been made, which motivates Simon for what the future holds.
He added: “From an idea and a vision, we’ve actually started doing some good work now and were looking forward to moving it to the next level.