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Major dementia community project to launch at Agfest

Chris Sargent - Managing Director at Plants Management Australia and Dr Claire Eccleston, from the University of Tasmania’s Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre.

A new dementia research project funded by a $50,000 grant from the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation will launch at Agfest on Thursday 4 May 2017.

Tasmanian-based company Plants Management Australia raised the money from the sale of Dianthus ‘Memories’ plants, specifically developed to fund dementia research.

Led by Dr Claire Eccleston from the University of Tasmania’s Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, the project is working to build dementia-friendly communities by investigating what Tasmanians know about the condition.

The findings will then inform the Wicking Centre to develop targeted education programs which improve local dementia care and awareness.

Dr Eccleston said Agfest would provide an ideal opportunity to reach rural Tasmanian communities and encouraged patrons to be among the first to participate in the project survey.

“Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australians. More than 400,000 currently live with the condition, a number that is projected to increase,” Dr Eccleston said.

“We know anecdotally that people generally don’t have a full understanding of the condition, including how to care for and communicate with people affected by it.

“In order for communities to become dementia-friendly, we have to uncover what people know about the condition, and tailor education where it is needed.

“However we know less about the awareness of certain groups, particularly residents from remote and rural communities, younger people, and men. At Agfest we can connect with these cohorts.”

A survey booth will be operating across all three days of the event, collecting anonymous information from participants.

Wicking Centre researchers will also be taking expressions of interest for regional focus groups, allowing communities to talk further about their dementia education needs and how to be more supportive of people with the condition.

Professor Andrew Robinson, Co-Director of the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre commended Dr Eccleston on the project.

“We have been advised that Dr Eccleston’s project appealed for the funding because of the immediate impact it would have in improving the lives of those affected directly and indirectly by dementia in Tasmania,” Professor Robinson said.

“This is another notable example of the life-changing work being forged by the Wicking Centre as an international leader in dementia research and education that is responsive to community needs.”

Dr Eccleston and her research team will be travelling across Tasmania visiting community centres, shopping precincts, and attending major events to conduct further surveys for the project.

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