“Relatives need more support”

10 mars 2020

Joanne Woodford, Researcher at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, is working on a model to enable healthcare to support those with dementia using restricted funds.

How can we help parents of children suffering from cancer manage their depression and worries? And how can those suffering from dementia and their relatives get support in managing daily life? For ten years, the U-Care research programme has studied how physical illnesses affect those who are suffering and their relatives.

On 9-10 March, U-Care will celebrate its tenth anniversary with a conference at BMC, under the theme “Informal care”. One of the lecturers is Joanne Woodford, Researcher at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, who conducts research into how depression among dementia sufferers can be prevented.
“Studies show that up to half of all dementia patients show symptoms of depression. A strong contributing factor is that many dementia patients discontinue everyday activities, sometimes because those close to them unnecessarily take over many household duties. Passivity accelerates the negative spiral, and healthcare needs the tools to help the patients and their relatives to restore routines, activity and quality of life,” notes Woodford.

U-CARE studies how people suffering from physical illness and their relatives are affected psychologically and financially and what help they need to deal with the situation. It also develops self-help programmes for various conditions.

Joanne Woodford was formerly a Researcher at the University of Exeter before moving to Uppsala University and U-Care in August 2017.
“I can continue developing the work I started in England here. Above all, I hope I can adapt a model to Swedish circumstances that can make it easier for healthcare to provide support to dementia patients with a small amount of funding.”

Traditional cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) produces good results, but it requires a large amount of resources. CBT-alternatives based on self-help also require extensive access to specially trained staff. That is why researchers in England have developed various interventions that caregivers can use after a short training period to provide people afflicted with dementia and those close to them support with day-to-day living.

Louise von Essen, Professor at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health.
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

Professor Louise von Essen has managed U-Care since it was launched ten years ago and can look back on some eventful years. Today 25 people – four of whom are responsible for different research projects – work in the MTC building at Uppsala Science Park.
“We have developed expertise in both theory and method over the past decade. We work on a range of different scientific methods, such as developing, testing, evaluating and implementing complex interventions in healthcare and involving those whom the research concerns throughout the research process,” says Louise von Essen.

She has conducted research into children afflicted with cancer and their parents for over twenty years. One of the results of this is an internet-based psychological treatment programme for parents of cancer-afflicted children that is currently available for use within healthcare.
“It is becoming increasingly common for people to care for their relatives, which can be taxing and means a large amount of support is needed. Relative support groups are becoming more common for various illnesses now, which is fantastic. But it is also a sign that help is truly needed.”

U-CARE´s tenth anniversary

U-CARE is one of the government’s strategic research programmes at Uppsala University that studies how people suffering from physical illnesses and their relatives are affected psychologically and financially and what help they need to manage various difficulties. U-Care also develops self-help programmes provided online.