Guy Boersma, Managing Director of KSS AHSN, reflects on how work around dementia has grown in the region since the launch of the Technology Integrated Health Management for Dementia (TIHM) project three years ago.

TIHM has been a landmark project in a number of ways – it is regarded as the most promising of the Wave 1 NHS Test Beds and has received numerous awards, including the ‘Improving Care with Technology’ award in what is the world’s largest healthcare awards programme, run by health publication the HSJ.

It was also the first multi-million- pound win in which KSS AHSN was heavily involved, bringing together
a consortium including Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Alzheimer’s Society and the University of Surrey’s AI Machine Learning team.

Putting Surrey on the map

As well as being our first high value bid, the TIHM project has also put the University of Surrey AI Machine Learning Team, led by Professor Payam Barnaghi, on the map as a leading player in dementia research.

In April this year it was announced that they would be collaborating again with Alzheimer’s Society. Together, the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK have provided £20m for a new Care Research and Technology Centre at Imperial College London. It has six themes, with the University of Surrey leading two of them.

As Fiona Carragher, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society said at its launch:

“850,000 people in the UK live with dementia, and they deserve the opportunity to live their lives to the full.

“Developing dementia shouldn’t have to mean losing your independence and your choice to live in your own home, but we know there can be problems – from the 74-year-old who kept leaving the gas on, to the woman whose urine infection went undetected so long she ended up spending 12 weeks in hospital – and we want to find a solution.”

Improving algorithms

These personal case studies came from the TIHM project, and it continues to improve its algorithms and identify deterioration in people’s health earlier and earlier, enabling clinical intervention sooner, keeping more people at home.

The new Care Research and Technology Centre’s goal is to develop technologies that enable people to live in their own homes for as long as possible, and its work will be based on elements of the TIHM work.

This is a hugely exciting development for the University of Surrey, and we’re delighted to see its expertise in this field recognised by such a prestigious project.

New models of care

The Care Research and Technology Centre offers huge scope around driving new models of care for those with dementia, and their carers.

Of course, this work has to go hand in hand with the promised Government overhaul of social care – or scarce, expensive and poor quality dementia care will only undermine our efforts to improve people’s lives through technology.

Having such a strong new Research Centre gives us a whole range of new opportunities to help people maintain independence and live longer in their own homes.

It’s great to see mighty oaks grow from small acorns.