Social science research supporting dementia

26 March 2012

The Prime Minister has announced plans to tackle what he is calling a 'national crisis' posed by dementia, including a doubling of research funding into dementia to £66 million per year by 2015. As part of the funding being made available, the ESRC and National Institute for Health Research will be working together to support an initiative with up to £13 million funding available for social science research on dementia.

It is estimated that around 800,000 people in the UK currently have dementia, with 670,000 family and friends acting as primary carers. The Government initiative is set not only to look at cures and early diagnosis, but also the health and social care systems and community initiatives in place to deal with this growing problem.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "One of the greatest challenges of our time is what I'd call the quiet crisis, one that steals lives and tears at the hearts of families, but that relative to its impact is hardly acknowledged. Dementia is simply a terrible disease. And it is a scandal that we as a country haven't kept pace with it. The level of diagnosis, understanding and awareness of dementia is shockingly low. It is as though we've been in collective denial."

"Dementia is a major challenge for our society, and it is imperative to develop an understanding of the needs of those with dementia, their families and the communities they live in," ESRC Chief Executive Paul Boyle commented. "Funding social science research in this area could provide much-needed evidence for changes in future health and social care policy, as well as practical guidance for charities and third sector organisations working with sufferers of dementia."