Scotland now has a national Brain Health & Dementia Research Strategy

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Today, Alzheimer Scotland, The Scottish Dementia Research Consortium and Brain Health Scotland have launched the first Scottish Brain Health & Dementia Research Strategy. This is a real milestone, and the first of its kind in the UK, setting the aims for Scottish Research and defining a number of key actions. 

Many countries have dementia plans or strategies but Scotland is among the first countries in the world to develop a government-sponsored, standalone research strategy for brain health and dementia. If you’re in England you will be aware of the former Prime Ministers 2020 Dementia Challenge, of course we are now in 2020, and we eagerly await the next update, and to see if ‘brain health’ forms part of the plan.

The overall aim of the strategy is to create an environment in Scotland to promote the conditions for the highest quality of brain health and dementia research and the rapid implementation of research into practice. This document provides a framework from, it is hoped that organisations will be able to build their own action plans for delivery through the creation of brain health and dementia research boards locally and nationally.

What are the key actions?

The foundation of the strategy comes from an appreciation that if meaningful research is research that is driven by people’s needs, then it is vital that conversations take place between people and researchers. The strategy recommends four key actions.

  1. Brain health and dementia research boards should be developed locally within NHS boards to pursue the local research agenda in relation to dementia and brain health. Representatives from these local boards should come together to form a national forum to provide strategic oversight.
  2. The national forum will provide a rapid research-review service to create a process that facilitates rapid translation of research into practice – we’ve learned from Covid 19 that it doesn’t have to take years to get research findings into practice, we can move quicker.
  3. A national scoping review should be undertaken to investigate the current situation regarding research careers in brain health and dementia in Scotland. This will identify bottlenecks and barriers that obstruct research careers in brain health and dementia at all levels. The findings of the review will help facilitate progression to more senior career levels.
  4. A national strategy oversight board will be established to take responsibility for monitoring and supporting implementation of the strategy across Scotland.

Most of the actions will be of interest to researchers everywhere, this could be the model that others across the world adopt. The challenge is to translate the strategy into meaningful, impactful, change. Let’s hope so… because if it works, researcher careers will improve, fewer people will develop dementia, and those unornate enough to have it, will be accessing the best possible treatments and care, at the cutting edge of delivery.

Download the Strategy

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