Nipissing University Works With International and Local Partners to Research Rare Forms of Dementia and Support Systems in Rural and Remote Communities

Dr. Mary Patricia Sullivan
Dr. Mary Patricia Sullivan

Nipissing University is pleased to announce its participation in an international research partnership with University College London, Canterbury Christ Church University (England) and Bangor University (Wales), as well as a local community partnership with the Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin North Bay & Districts. The partnership is funded by a grant of over $6,000,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council, and the National Institute for Health Research, both based in the United Kingdom, with Nipissing University receiving over $600,000 of the total grant funding. The principal investigator for the research is Dr. Sebastian Crutch, a neuropsychologist at the prestigious Dementia Research Centre, University College London.

The research is to be conducted over the next five years, with anticipated applications from the research eventually yielding community and regional benefits. In partnership with the Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin North Bay & Districts, Dr. Mary Pat Sullivan, who will be leading the research team at Nipissing University, will be examining multicomponent support groups in rural and remote settings. This study, representing the first major study of its kind, will examine what is effective supports for people living with rare forms of dementia, including what is most cost-effective to deliver, and what support looks like in different contexts (such as rural and remote communities in northeastern Ontario).

“I’m very pleased to be collaborating with colleagues in the United Kingdom and community partners in northeastern Ontario to conduct meaningful research that will impact people’s lives,” said Dr. Mary Pat Sullivan, Director of the Department of Social Work at Nipissing University. “The prospect that research being conducted at Nipissing University is expected to soon yield results that benefit residents both locally and abroad is an excellent example of the added value Nipissing University brings to North Bay.”

Despite the research funding being only recently awarded to Nipissing University, the groundwork for the successful application was laid long before. In November 2017, Dr. Sullivan from Nipissing University and Stéphanie Leclair, Executive Director of the Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin North Bay & Districts, travelled to Austria to attend the Salzburg Global Seminar’s session on Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia-Friendly Communities.

“Our community partnership with Nipissing University is of great value, and we are excited to see the real impacts of this research take place in the communities we serve to help those living the dementia journey,” said Stéphanie Leclair. “This is tremendous news and an announcement that shows the value of working together to deliver solutions.”

The announcement came shortly after January, which was officially Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. The month serves to recognize Canadians affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as the extraordinary dedication of care partners and families.