Work Programme 4: An update on activity in Greater Manchester (July 2016)

It has been busy at the Greater Manchester site and we are extremely grateful to all those who have provided help and support. This includes all those who have offered advice on where to go and with whom to speak to find people to take part in the work, those who have provided feedback on our research design and methods for collecting data, as well as many people who have given their organisational support. Most importantly, we have been delighted by the number of people living with dementia who have volunteered to take part in the research and have told us their stories with warmth and honesty.

We set out in May 2015 hoping to find 40 people to take part and were fortunate to have 51 people volunteer, 49 of whom have gone on to take part in our research activities. We have involved 26 people living with dementia and 23 family carers. Thanks to them we are able to understand the experiences of living with dementia for a whole range of people not just those born and bred in Manchester, but also from right across the UK and overseas, and ranging in age from their late fifties to late eighties. We have spoken to people diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia and Pick’s disease.

Our data consists of many fascinating interviews, walks, photographs, diaries and films. Twenty-three carers have produced social network maps with us, we have been on 23 neighbourhood walks with people with dementia, completed 26 home tours, and 2 people have completed movement-diaries for us. We have been working hard to understand all the stories and information gathered and are beginning to develop some important ideas about what matters in people’s lives, where they live and the kind of support such as informal help as well as support from their neighbourhoods and communities. This analysis is also helping us to consider the sorts of things we like to ask people about when we re-visit them in the autumn of this year.

This month we are attending the British Society of Gerontology Annual Conference at the University of Stirling where we will present a symposium on our work from across the project sites. The symposium which is titled ‘Neighbourhoods and the new geography of dementia, care and support’ is exploring the experiences across Stirling, Manchester and Linköping as well as experiences from our sister project in Ottawa, Canada to consider about how people living with dementia and their families experience everyday life in their neighbourhoods. We have also presented our early findings at a range of events in the Greater Manchester region.

Andrew Clark and Sarah Campbell

(University of Salford and University of Manchester)