Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bikes, Profs, Goodbyes, Designer Conferences and Carers

For the first time in a long time, well at least as long as I can remember, this morning I over slept. Simply put, my internal clock did not wake me up as usual at 05.00. This has not happened for many a year. Maybe its because last week my long awaited bike arrived. I had wanted one of these for a while but the makers had stopped production. Fortunately I found a company that could bring one in from the US, and last week they delivered it – in a brown cardboard box! It took a while to assemble and then I realised I had no way to get it home. I live some 18 miles away from the University and that seemed like an awfully long first bike ride to me. So it was disassembled and taken home in parts. The inaugural bike ride happened yesterday and I was instantly transported back to my early teens, and so enjoyed the experience.

And another enjoyable experience was to hear that two of my colleagues in the School had been given their personal Chairs, Paula Ormandy and Nick Hardiker both became Professors this week. Many congratulations to them both, well deserved and great for the School and University. I also completed the internal considerations of the applications made from colleagues moving from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer. The final outcome is embargoed until tomorrow, but there were some cracking successful applications that showcased the enormous breadth of talent in the School.

Last week there were congratulations to be celebrated in a different context, as it was time to say goodbye to our 2009 students. We had two big celebration events both of which were a great success. At one event there were some 300 students in our large lecture theatre. The warmth the students displayed to my colleagues for the support and help they had unremittingly received from them was fantastic. In the second event I was presented with a pair of authentic bright yellow wooden clogs. I thought this a fun and really lovely gift, although I am not sure if the students were perhaps slightly amused that I only ever wear clogs.

On Friday I opened our Dementia Design Conference. In the UK, there are currently 800,000 people with dementia with some 17,000 being young people. It’s estimated that by 2021 there will be over a million people living with dementia. 33% of people with dementia are women, and 60,000 people die each a year from dementia. This year dementia will cost the NHS some £23bn, and that’s despite the fact that family carers of people with dementia save the NHS £8bn a year.

Last week Carers UK and the University of Leeds published a report on the contribution carers make to societies well being. Based on the 2001 Census, it is estimated that there are some 6.5 million carers in the UK, some 10.5% of the total UK population. The care they provide is worth an estimated £119bn per year (more than total spending on the NHS). Carers are more likely to be women than men - 58% of carers are female and 42% are male. 58% of carers look after someone with a physical disability; 13% care for someone with a mental health problem; 20% for someone with a sensory impairment and 10% for someone with dementia.

The Dementia Design Conference was the result of work undertaken by colleagues from School of Nursing, Midwifery, & Social Work and the School of the Built Environment aimed at making a positive difference to those living with dementia. The multi-professional, multi-sector and multi agency approach was a great success. My favourite presentation was on the use of different smells to keep people health. Resulting from work undertaken by the Design Council this device can produce a different smell at predetermined times to stimulate appetite. Small trials have shown good results, and now a larger trial is underway with Anchor Care Homes. The final event of the day was the launch of the International Dementia Design Network, and this network is definitely going to be a case of watch this space!