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Falls research

Conversation between James and Dr Louise Allan around current falls research
Hello. Thanks for joining us for another Meet the Experts video with Dr. Louise Allen, who’s a consultant geriatrician and a researcher at Newcastle University. Louise, you’ve been involved in falls research before, but I understand that you’ve got some falls research about to start. You’re right we’ve done some research before looking at how often people with dementia fall and what might cause them to fall. But it’s really important that we carry on the research doing things that are important for the people with dementia who do have a fall.
So the National Institute of Health Research asked people what was important to them, and one of the things that they wanted us improve was that how we help people recover when they injure themselves after a fall. So we’re going to be doing a trial that looks at how we might go about improving this for those people. Now falling over for people with dementia it is a complex problem. So it’s not the sort of thing that we’re going to be able to give to someone, a simple tablet to help them with it.
We’re going to need to do something that we call a complex intervention, and that’s where we have a multi-pronged attack, and we try and do several things at once to help the people who have had these injuries. And when we’re trying to do a trial to see what might work, we need to do a lot of feasibility work for these complex interventions. So the first thing we’re going have a look at the literature and see what else has been tried before and what worked for people before. We’re also going to find out more about what happens to people who injure themselves after a fall if they’ve got dementia. What happens at the moment?
So we’re going to be looking who’s looking after them, what sort of problems they have. Interviewing the people with dementia and the carers to find out what happened and what they thought helped and what didn’t help and any ideas that they have for how we could improve things and also interviewing the professionals for their ideas, as well. And when we got that information, we’ll have some ideas as to what we might put into the complex intervention. And we’ll then have an expert panel who will look at all the information we’ve got and try to prioritise the things that we might do to help people. We’ll then design the intervention.
We’ll have to write some manual so that health care workers can follow this intervention. And the last part of the study would just be to rehearse it, not in a randomised way, but just rehearse with a few people to see if there are any teething problems with this complex intervention. And then we’ll know what sorts of things we might need in the intervention, and we’ll be able to move to a full trial, which is where we randomised people to either have the intervention or not. And we’ll look at what happens to them afterwards and see if they feel that the problem has been improved if they’ve got this intervention.
And if that works, then hopefully we’ll be able to implement it within health services of in the UK and spread the knowledge around to other countries. As a researcher, why would you say it’s important for people to get involved in research? Well, it’s the only way that we can make sure that we know what really works for people in order to improve their lives, their well-being, even if they do have a serious condition like dementia. If people want to be involved in research, how could they go about doing that. Well, it depends where you live, in terms of the specifics.
But anyone who has had dementia diagnosed by a doctor, I would recommend that they tell that person that they would like to be involved in research and ask them about opportunities that are available. They can also ask societies that help people with dementia, so the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK and other equivalent societies in other countries. It’s worth looking on the internet for any National Institutes of research to see what they say. If you’re living in the UK, there is a sign up site called Join Dementia Research, where you can fill in an online form saying that you are interested.
You can also phone the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, and they can fill in that form for you if you don’t have the internet. In the Northeast, we do have a local patient list of people who would like to take part in research. So if you’ve been diagnosed around Newcastle, then do tell your doctor that you’d like to join the DeNDRoN patient list. Well, I’m very excited to hear about the results of your research when they come out in the future. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you, James. Thank you.
James and Louise continue their conversation in this video. Louise Allan, a dementia expert speaks about research to better understand falls in people with dementia, so that in the long term she can develop an effective treatment.
Louise has since moved to Exeter University, where she is Professor of Geriatric Medicine. For further details of her study please see the link below.
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Ageing Well: Why Older People Fall

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