Improving the quality of life for care home residents with chronic diseases

When nearing the end of their life, care home residents with chronic diseases can often find themselves in and out of hospital. This affects their quality of life and is distressing for both them and their families. Prof. Irene Higginson and Drs Anna Bone and Clare Ellis-Smith, from the Cicely Saunders Institute, initiated the Integrated Community Palliative Partnership (ICPP) project to investigate how to improve care for people in care homes with long-term illnesses.

Harnessing health data to improve care for older people

When Dr Oliver Todd from the University of Leeds embarked on a Dunhill Medical Trust Research Training Fellowship aimed at finding out whether blood pressure management is linked to an increased risk of falls, it opened up a whole new world of research to improve care for older people.

Conductor leading an orchestra of older people.

Motivating stroke recovery through music making

After having a stroke, many people don’t feel like themselves because they’ve lost so much of what they used to be able to do. Lisa Rodio, from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, runs STOKESTRA®, a unique music-making group that combines music and rehabilitation in a way that makes stroke recovery fun, effective and confidence-boosting.

Stimulating the vagus nerve to improve gait in Parkinson’s

Falls are a major cause of lost independence in people with Parkinson’s. Dr Alison Yarnall is trialling a new method to reduce fall risk and improve walking in people with Parkinson’s, which involves non-invasive stimulation of the vagus nerve.

Close-up photo of a wildflower meadow in bloom

The birds and the bees: Can enjoying nature promote health and wellbeing in older people?

There’s growing evidence that engaging with outdoor spaces promotes health and wellbeing across all ages. Yet as we get older, our changing abilities, motivations and means could prevent us from reaping the rewards of interacting with nature. Professor Birgitta Gatersleben and Dr Ciara O’Brien from the University of Surrey set out to co-design and test a nature-based conservation activity with residents at Whiteley Retirement Village, to see what works best for who, and to empower older people to enjoy the outdoors.

Collection of blue and purple cells

Understanding the science behind Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is a disease where the immune system attacks healthy cells in the glands, leading to dry eyes and mouth but can affect other parts of the body such as joints, lungs, skin and nervous system. Although we can ease the symptoms, we don’t have any good treatments. Dr Elizabeth Jury, Dr Coziana Ciurtin and Lucia Martin-Gutierrez, with their team at UCL, looked at the blood of patients and found their immune systems behaved in two different ways. Identifying these two groups will help us treat this uncomfortable disease.

Skin wound close up cell view

Skin wounds that won’t heal: can stem cells help where antibiotics can’t?

Skin wounds that won’t heal are a big problem, particularly for older people, and have a big impact on quality of life. However, current treatments and antibiotics aren’t very effective, running the risk of long-term, chronic infection. Professor Phil Stephens and his team are investigating whether packets of bioactive compounds secreted by stem cells could create an anti-microbial environment that will help skin wounds to heal better.

Instructor leading music session with three older participants

Can music therapy protect cognitive functions in older people?

Music therapy can enhance people’s lives, and stimulate their minds. Dr Fabia Franco and her team are assessing the impact of music therapy on older people’s cognition through a randomised controlled trial. An important factor in this will be the use of human-like robots in addition to the face-to-face sessions, to see whether this is a viable way to deliver the therapy.