Regional News — May 10, 2016 at 12:36 pm — Updated: May 12, 2016 at 10:23 am

Health Board research forms part of BBC Horizon documentary



Research carried out by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) will form part of an episode of the BBC Two’s flagship science programme, Horizon.

The episode focusses on research projects into the cure and care of Alzheimer’s disease and features the ‘GREAT’ clinical trial hosted by BCUHB. It will air on BBC Two this Wednesday, May 11, ahead of Dementia Awareness Week (May17-23).

The Goal-orientated Cognitive Rehabilitation in Early-stage Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias  ‘GREAT’ clinical trial is led by the University of Exeter with support from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Bangor University, and seven other research sites at Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Bath, London, Kent and Newcastle. It has involved over 500 participants, with the North Wales site making the largest single contribution by recruiting over 100 participants.

The trial investigates whether goal-oriented cognitive rehabilitation can help to improve engagement in everyday activities and overall enjoyment of life for people living with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia.

Therapy is tailored to each individual person with dementia to address goals which they have identified as being meaningful and important. This involves assessing how the person is currently performing these activities, and then, with the therapist, devising and trying out new strategies. These include techniques that help people with learning new skills and methods to take some of the load off their memory (e.g. use of a whiteboard to make notes of the day’s activities) to help them improve their performance and achieve the goals. An example may be somebody wishing to learn how to use a mobile phone, so that they can feel more confident when going shopping locally on their own. Being able to get in touch by phone not only boosts the confidence of the person with dementia but also reassures their family.

The Horizon episode will show therapy sessions with a local participant in the study and Sue Evans, Research Occupational Therapist. Sue Evans says: “Having a dementia diagnosis does not have to mean life stands still. The key to cognitive rehabilitation is making sure people with dementia retain their independence, by learning new strategies to help them manage their cognitive difficulties better and achieving personally relevant goals, which in turn helps them to live and enjoy life to the full”.

The Goal- orientated Cognitive Rehabilitation in Early-stageAlzheimer’s and Related Dementias Trial (GREAT) is funded by the National Institute for Health Research through its Health Technology Assessment Programme.

Professor Bob Woods, who oversees the North Wales site, says: “This is a promising approach to helping people to live well with dementia, and we have had a fantastic response from those people with dementia and carers taking part. The support from our NHS colleagues and Health & Care Research Wales has made it possible to keep North Wales at the forefront of international research on dementia care.”

Based on the study’s findings, the University of Exeter research team plans to develop a free self-help guide for people with memory problems and their families, and manuals and training courses for healthcare professionals. If you would like to receive these materials when they become available please leave your contact details with the project team: register your interest on the project website



  1. The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme funds research about the effectiveness, costs, and broader impact of health technologies for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS. It is the largest NIHR programme and publishes the results of its research in the Health Technology Assessment journal, with over 700 issues published to date. The journal’s 2014 Impact Factor (5.027) ranked it two out of 85 publications in the Health Care Sciences and Services category. All issues are available for download, free of charge, from the website. The HTA Programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales, and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.
  2. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (


This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

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