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A sunny autumn day in Worcester: Or Tombs of English Kings, Part 2

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TAnDem is short for The Arts aNd DEMentia. It is the joint Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) hosted by the Centre for Dementia, University of Nottingham, and the Association for Dementia Studies, University of Worcester. TAnDem is one of eight DTCs that were funded by the Alzheimer’s Society to stimulate research capacity in dementia.

The idea for TAnDem came about because of longstanding links between the heads of the two dementia groups in Worcester and in Nottingham, and the call for bids from the Alzheimer’s Society seemed like a perfect opportunity to build on this, but also to bring in several doctoral students and make a real contribution to an area of research of our choosing. It was not difficult to decide that the venture should be around the arts in dementia. Both Worcester and Nottingham have been involved in projects around the arts, ranging from evaluations of arts interventions of various kinds to the creation of drama, the play Inside Out of Mind, which enjoyed a national tour earlier this year. It was also felt that the studentships should concentrate on methodological questions around the arts as too many studies are small scale and of variable quality. This has detracted from the strength of the evidence base in this area – so, although many people are aware of the power of arts experiences for people with dementia, convincing sceptical commissioners of care that they should be buying such work is difficult.

The bid was led by my colleagues Professor Justine Schneider (Nottingham) and Professor Dawn Brooker (Worcester). We were successful in our application, much to our delight, and this provides funds for four students as well as some travel and conference money to aid their development and enable them to present their research. As well as this, the two universities have each agreed to fund an additional studentship from 2016, making a total of at least six. The bid is novel in several regards.  First, the topic is one that has not had significant funding of this kind before. Second, it is a joint venture between two universities with no previous track record of working together, so this has provided some interesting technical and contractual challenges. For example, from which university does each student receive their degree? Third, the supervision arrangements are novel – each student is registered with either Nottingham or Worcester and is based at that campus but they will all have a supervisor from each university. This means that they will benefit from the different skills available at the two sites but also encourages joint participation and will help build a collegiate feel to the DTC.

As of 1st October 2015, we now have four gifted students in place, working on projects that include: evaluating an existing programme of arts interventions in care homes (Imagine Arts, Nottingham), creating an international taxonomy of arts interventions, examining questions of methodology, and also what works for whom? The sunny day in Worcester refers to our TAnDem launch event, held on 20th October. It was the first occasion the four students had met each other and we had an introduction to them all, also attended by our supporters from the Alzheimer’s Society and members of the Worcester arts community. A parallel event will be held in Nottingham on 11th November.

And the tombs of kings??? As it was such a glorious day, yours truly turned tourist and visited Worcester Cathedral where King John has rested peacefully since the 13th Century. This is in marked contrast to Richard III (see my post on the British Geriatrics Society website, ‘The Week in Leicester’). 

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Joseph Thomas

I am currently a final year student at the University of Nottingham studying Neuroscience. One of the major influences on my life that encouraged me to study the brain was my Grandad, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease when I was incredibly young.

Chris Ward

One of my challenges as a specialist physician was Huntington’s disease. To give you a picture, imagine 'Diane' [i] slumped in a wheelchair, stirred into speaking by something her husband has said about their 7 year old son, Will.

Justine Schneider

In generating public understanding about dementia, the arts and social sciences have as much to offer as neuroscience.  This is the starting-point of a group which has been invited to take up the 2016-2018 residency in The Hub at Wellcome Collection, a flagship space and resource for interdiscipl