Category / Research themes

World Alzheimer’s Day: how BU research is making a difference to those with dementia

World Alzheimer’s Day falls on 21 September each year and gives us an opportunity to focus on work going on across the world to understand and fight the disease.  Over 850,000 people in the UK have some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, so research in this area is of importance to many of us.

Designing dementia friendly environments

Dr Jan Wiener, co-head of the Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI), is an Associate Professor in Psychology with a particular interest in navigation and wayfinding.

“Spatial awareness difficulties can be an early sign of dementia, which often manifests itself in people finding it hard to navigate around unfamiliar environments.  This is a problem for people with dementia as many will move into a care home as the disease progresses, which can cause a lot of anxiety,” explains Dr Wiener.

“We want to develop a better understanding of what causes those difficulties with spatial awareness, starting with finding out how people navigate around different environments – what markers they use to help them – and what impedes them.”

“We have funding from the Economic & Social Research Council, which is enabling us to explore this area more fully.  We’re using virtual environments and eye tracker technology to create familiar and unfamiliar buildings, which participants are then asked to navigate around.”

“The eye tracking technology enables us to see exactly where people are looking and which waypoints they’re likely to be using to help them get around.  It helps us to develop a better understanding of whether people simply didn’t see a waypoint, such as a painting or a sign, or whether they saw it and didn’t know or remember what it meant.”

“Our research has very real implications for the design of care homes and other public places.  Often the design and decoration of a care home is based on intuition and what staff feel works, although they may not know why.  Our research is unique in that it’s providing an evidence base for building guidelines, based on what our tests show helps and hinders people to navigate different environments.”

Supporting nursing and care home staff to improve nutrition for people with dementia

Dr Jane Murphy, co-head of BUDI, is an Associate Professor in Nutrition who is currently leading a Burdett Trust funded project developing training tools for care staff to help improve nutrition in people with dementia.

“We know that as dementia progresses, it’s not uncommon for people to lose weight, which can lead to further physical and mental decline.  This can be for all sorts of reasons – people may face physical difficulties with swallowing, might not be able to sense hunger or thirst or may not remember when they last ate or drank.  For busy care home staff, managing this and knowing how best to support people they care for can be a real challenge, especially as everyone has different needs,” says Dr Murphy.

“We worked with local care homes in Dorset to find out how much people were eating and drinking and whether this was enough to meet the amount of energy they were using each day.  Our results showed that around half of our participants weren’t eating or drinking enough to meet their daily energy needs.  We also found that many people were spending a high proportion of their day sitting or sleeping, which may explain why some had small appetites.”

“This showed it can be really difficult to get nutrition right, especially when needs vary enormously between different people.  Our next stage was to work with local care homes to draw out examples of best practice and strategies to help people with dementia to eat and drink well.  Based on this, we’ve developed a training book and YouTube film, packed full of tips about nutrition and ideas for care home staff to try out.  We chose to make them resources that can be used at any time, in recognition of how hard it can be to take time out to go on a training course.”

“We’ve been sharing these resources widely throughout the care sector and are now seeing the tools being used in care homes, as well as being incorporated into university training programmes.  Most encouragingly, we’re beginning to hear stories of people with dementia who were at risk of or actually losing weight, beginning to reverse that trend, which shows us that the strategies we highlighted in our resources are making a real difference.”

How can ‘serious gaming’ help those with Alzheimer’s?

Ben Hicks, Lecturer in Health Psychology, has recently completed his PhD research which explored the use of technology clubs for older men with dementia in rural areas.  Over the next couple of years he will be building on this work by carrying out research into the impact of ‘serious gaming’ on people with Alzheimer’s.

“My PhD focused on older men with dementia, living in rural areas of Dorset who are at risk of becoming very isolated,” explains Ben, “I introduced technology clubs, where they had a chance to try out Xbox games and the Wii Fit among others.  It created a really social atmosphere and gave them a chance to learn new skills, dispelling the myth that people with dementia can’t learn anything new.”

“They proved very popular and thanks to funding from Dorset Partnership for Older People Project (POPP), the clubs have been able to carry on, even though my research has now finished.  It’s great to have started something that’s going on to make a difference to people’s lives.”

“My new study will focus on the idea that ‘serious gaming’ can help people with dementia to improve their cognitive abilities. Whilst emerging research in this field demonstrates the potential of ‘Serious Games’ to support people living with dementia, more rigorous studies are required.”

“I’m going to be working with Alzheimer’s Valencia, a game development company and other organisations in Europe to explore which aspects of the games appeal and improve cognitive abilities.  In the long run, we hope to develop guidance for other technology companies to help them to create similar games.”

For more information about BU’s dementia research, visit BUDI’s website.

BU PGR Research into the effects of diet and exercise on mobility and brain function – Call for participants.

bike-pictureWe are often reminded that we should be paying attention to what we eat and making sure we exercise regularly. These recommendations are based on years of research into how diet and exercise can impact our health and well-being throughout the lifespan. However, it’s rare that these two crucial elements are studied together.

  • Can combining different lifestyle interventions produce an even more profound effect than each individually?
  • Are people able to adapt to two changes in lifestyle?
  • Is one element of lifestyle modification better than the other?

We have designed a study that will hopefully give an insight into these questions by looking at the effects of a dietary supplement and exercise classes on a spinning bike in adults aged 60+. The supplement contains fish oil (1000 mg DHA, 160 mg EPA), 20 µg B12, 1 mg folic acid, 124 mg phosphatidylserine, 240 mg gingko biloba standardized leaf extract and 20 mg vitamin E.

We are seeking to recruit healthy adults aged 60+ to take part in the study.  Volunteers will be split into four groups.

  • Supplement and exercise classes
  • Placebo and exercise classes
  • Supplement
  • Placebo

We will ask volunteers to take part in tests related to walking ability and brain function and a blood sample will also be required.  These will be done at the beginning of the study and after 24 weeks.

All testing and the exercise classes will take part at SportBU at Bournemouth University Talbot Campus, Fern Barrow, Poole, BH12 5BB.

  • Inclusion criteria: Aged 60+ and able to walk 50 metres without a walking aid
  • Exclusion criteria: Vestibular impairments (balance disorder), diagnosed neurological disorder e.g. dementia or depression, previously received lower limb surgery, diagnosis or receiving treatment for pernicious anaemia, allergy to seafood, regular consumption of multivitamin/fish oil supplements in the last six months, have been advised not to take part in exercise by a doctor

Due to a number of advances in medicine and healthcare, life expectancy has steadily increased in the UK meaning we have an ever expanding population of people aged 60+.  For this population it’s not just about living longer, it’s about living better for longer.  This can mean being able to take part in leisure activities like sports, gardening or visiting friends right down to more vital activities like being able to climb stairs or rise from a chair.  Mobility and brain function play a pivotal role in the quality of life of the older generation, yet it’s common to see declines in both of these areas as we get older.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in taking part of would like more information about the study or our research please contact

Paul Fairbairn

PhD Student Bournemouth University

07871 319620


Reading Communities: Past and Present – AHRC conference, Senate House, London

Simon Frost and I recently took part in this event organised by an AHRC project based at The Open University which follows on from previous research leading to the establishment of The Reading Experience Database (RED). The event brought together book historians, literary scholars and researchers working on the borders between literature and media and cultural studies to explore a variety of examples of reading communities from Quaker reading groups and records of readers in the borrowing records of national libraries, to online book clubs and LARPs (Live Action Role Playing events). img_0020


This was a good opportunity for us to promote the work of the BU based Digital Reading Network, and CsJCC, based in the Faculty of Media and Communication. Simon’s paper reported on the findings of his BU Fusion funded project looking at contemporary book retailing, which was conducted in collaboration with the university bookseller John Smith’s.  Simon’s paper provided a fascinating comparison of the retail landscape using past and present photographs of the same Southampton street where Gilbert’s bookshop is based.  He boldly proposed replacing the term literary work with ‘Net Work’ to capture the idea of the work as an event which consists of people, places and bibliographic objects. The proposal plays into wider global HE strategies to study English for its social impact.





My paper provided a comparison of two online reading communities.  The first, a Jane Austen community called The Republic of Pemberley, brings together devotees of the writer who engage in scheduled Group Reads of her work, using the website to report back and share their reading with other community members.  I also discussed how readers use social media platforms such as Twitter to share their reading, for example using the hashtag #mytolstory as they embarked on reading Tolstoy’s epic novel inspired by the recent BBC adaptation.  My paper drew on an article Julia Round and I recently published in the journal Language and Literature on online moderators, which was one of the outputs from our AHRC funded projects, Researching Readers Online and the Digital Reading Network.


The day provided an excellent opportunity for us to expand our networks, and establish new contacts. In particular, we were very excited to connect with researchers from the University of Malmo in Sweden whose research and philosophy for teaching English in a media context is closely aligned to our work here at BU.

New paper Dr. Catherine Angell on CPD in Nepal

nnaCongratulations to Dr. Catherine Angell (FHSS) who just had her paper ‘Continual Professional Development (CPD): an opportunity to improve the Quality of Nursing Care in Nepal’ accepted in Health Prospect.   The paper is co-authored with BU Visiting Faculty Dr. Bibha Simkhada and Prof. Padam Simkhada  both based at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), Dr. Rose Khatri  and Dr. Sean Mackacel-logo-weby (also at LJMU), Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen in the Centre for Midwifery and Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH), and our colleagues in Dr. Sujan Marahatta and Associate Professor Chandra Kala Sharma. Ms. Chandra Kala Sharma is also the president of the Nepal Nursing Association (left in photo).  Health Prospect is an Open Access journal, hence freely available to anybody in Nepal (and elsewhere in the world).

dsc_0124This paper is first of several based on a study aiming to improve CPD in Nepal and it is partly funded by LJMU and partly funded by BU’s Centre for Excellence in Learning (CEL).  The CEL-funded part of the project centres on focus group research with representatives of the Ministry of Health & Population, the Ministry of Education, the Nepal Nursing Association and the Nursing Council, and Higher Education providers of Nurse Education (both form Government-run universities and private colleges). The focus group schedule will include starter questions to initiate discussions around the kind of CPD nurses in Nepal need, its format, preferred models, the required quality and quantity, and ways of  checking up (quality control). In addition we will be asking a subgroup of nurses registered in Nepal about midwifery skills as midwifery is not recognised as a separate profession from nursing in Nepal. Hence there will be three focus groups specifically about midwifery CPD: one at MIDSON (the Midwifery Organisation of Nepal), one with nurses providing maternity care in private hospitals and one with nurses doing this in government hospitals.

The research is a natural FUSION project in the field of nursing & midwifery as it links Research in the field of Education to help improve Practice in Nepal.


Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen




  1. (CPD): an opportunity to improve the Quality of Nursing Care in Nepal, Health Prospect (Accepted) 



BU at ATLAS annual conference

BU had a strong presence at the ATLAS (Association for Tourism apic1nd Leisure Education and Research) annual conference which took place in the historic town of Canterbury, between 13-16 September, on “Tourism, Lifestyles and Locations”.

BU has been a member of the ATLAS network for many years and Dr Lenia Marques was one of the founders of the Special Interest Group on Events back in 2010. The group is very active and has several ongoing projects and collaborations amongst its members.

Several BU academics presented and discussed their research in Canterbury. Dr Hanaa Osman and Dr Lorraine Brown presented a piece of research which touches upon the status of women in tourism and which provoked debate on intercultural issues. Dr Anya Chapman presented her work on piers, which are so important for UK coastal destinations, such as Bournemouth. Dr Jaeyeon Choe presented her research on tourism and quality of life in Macao and we should congratulate her on her first attendance as the ATLAS Asia representative on the board.

Dr Lenia Marques presented her research on events and communities and practice among expats in a panel organised together with the Department of Events and Leisure and the Department of Tourism and Hospitality dedicated to “Lifestyle and communities: sharing in the digital era”. The panel, put together by Dr. Lenia Marques, Juliette Hecquet and Prof. Dimitrios Buhalis, aimed at discussing new trends in the fields of leisure and tourism connected to lifestyle and the sharing economy.

Overall, the discussions at the conference were animated and friendly, raising some of the big issues of our time. Collaborations, projects and further developments will surely continue in the run-up to the next ATLAS annual conference to be held in Viana do Castelo, Portugal (12-16 September 2017) under the theme “Destinations past, present and future”.

pic3 pic2

New sociology book by Prof Ann Brooks

Genealogies of Emotions, Intimacies, and Desire: Theories of Changes in Emotional Regimes from Medieval Society to Late Modernity (Hardback) book cover

Congratulations to Prof. Ann Brooks in FHSS on the publication of her latest book Genealogies of Emotions, Intimacies and Desire: Theories of Changes in Emotional Regimes from Medieval Society to Late Modernity. The book has a Foreword by David Konstan (NYU) and it is published by Routledge. 


Fusion Investment Funding helps to expand our conservation research in northern Sumatra

A series of Fusion Investment Funds since 2013 has enabled Amanda Korstjens and Ross Hill (Department of Life & Environmental Sciences) to develop a multi-stakeholder network in Sumatra and the UK, and establish a multi-cultural learning platform which provides BU staff and students with unique access to research, professional practice and education opportunities in tropical ecology and conservation. This began with an emphasis on primates, however further Fusion Investment Funding over 2015-16 has enabled us to expand this to include the critically endangered Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus), focusing on human-wildlife conflicts and mitigation, and thus broadening the scope, sphere of influence and practical applications of the network and its learning platform.


Human-elephant conflict is a major issue in northern Sumatra resulting from habitat loss and fragmentation. A key factor that decides the potential for conservation and for mitigating Human-elephant conflict is the availability of suitable habitat, and therefore it is critical to determine how elephants are responding to the degradation and rapid loss of their habitat. In order to do this, we need to have a better understanding of their home ranging, habitat use patterns and foraging strategies to understand their response to habitat change. We also need to understand the perception and values of local communities, and to identify positive means of providing support to help balance human-elephant relationships. An opportunity related to this is the potential for ecotourism development in the region. Ecotourism is a sustainable, non-invasive form of nature-based tourism that focuses primarily on educative experiences for visitors and direct economic benefit for local people. This FIF funded Staff Mobility Network project involved funding for Ross Hill, Amanda Korstjens and Susanna Curtin to visit Sumatra to establish a new collaborative network for Human-elephant conflict mitigation work, and to publicise our work via workshops and international conferences.

We made a highly successful two-week visit to Indonesia during January 2016. We held meetings with the Head of International Affairs at both Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, and University Sumatra Utara in Medan, to cement institutional relations and start the process of establishing a Memorandum of Agreement between our universities. Such was the level of support and interest from Syiah Kuala University that we also met both the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs (Dr Sofyan) and Rector (Prof Rizal), and after our visit they posted a very positive report on social media (click here).

picture2     picture3

We also visited the regional offices of HAkA (Hutan, Alam dan Lingkungan Aceh) in Langsa, in order to establish a working relationship and research plan for elephant habitat modelling and mitigation of human-elephant conflict. We met with Rudi Putra (Chief Conservationist) and Tezar Pahlevie (Regional Manager) to identify a field site and protocol for elephant tracking by GPS collar, and were invited to attend the opening ceremony of the Conservation Response Unit field site at Serbajadi, Aceh Timor. This was attended by dignitaries including the District (Aceh Timor) and/or Provincial (Aceh) Heads of Forestry, Conservation, Police, Military, Public Prosecution, and the Mayor. This event received considerable local coverage in the media (and through social media), helping to establish BU at the centre of activities and generating considerable good will. We have established this field area as the focal study site for our developing human-elephant conflict project, and our post-doctoral researcher (Gaius Wilson) is there now beginning the process of data collection.

picture4      picture5

In addition to putting in place the network and working relationships for our elephant project, we also met with our collaborators at the Sumatran Orang-utan Conservation Programme (SOCP), including Ian Singleton (Director of Conservation) and Matthew Nowak (Director of Biodiversity Monitoring) to discuss research plans for our PhD and MRes students. We also made a successful field reconnaissance visit at our Sikundur field site, travelling up the Besilang River into primary rainforest to establish the potential of extending primate research into undisturbed forest. In Medan we visited the SOCP orang-utan quarantine and rehabilitation centre (The Sanctuary), meeting with Jess McKelson, the Quarantine Director and Project Manager of the Orang-utan Haven and Wildlife Conservation Education Centre, establishing possibilities for both research and professional practice student placements.

picture6     picture7

Finally, we also visited the tourist area of Bukit Lawang to experience the role that tourism currently plays in orang-utan conservation to identify possibilities for an eco-tourism approach. We visited key sites and interviewed Zefri Chandra, Operations Manager of the only eco-lodge in the area, to gain an understanding of the difficulties and wider context of fulfilling an eco-tourism ethos in an environment where surrounding lodges and even the visiting foreign tourists do not particularly uphold or value this approach.

picture8      picture9

A second successful visit to Sumatra took place during June 2016, with a mostly educational focus, but tying in with the research and conservation practice aims of the learning platform. A previous research blog describes this international field trip (click here). Also during this visit to Sumatra, as a separate activity to the under-graduate field course, I was able to receive training from Graham Usher (SOCP) in the flying and configuration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for remote surveying of field sites at a landscape scale. This was part of the two-way knowledge exchange at the heart of the learning platform that this and previous FIF SMN awards have helped to establish.

picture10    picture11

In order to publicise our conservation research work at Sikundur, Amanda Korstjens attended the joint meeting of the International Primatological Society and the American Society of Primatologists, in Chicago, during August 21-27, 2016. She presented a poster on the LEAP project which was well received. For a brief report on the IPS-ASP conference, click here).

Please contact us if you would like to know any more information about our work in northern Sumatra, relating to primates, elephants, human-wildlife conflict or eco-tourism. Further information can be found on our LEAP project website (

Human Henge: Historic landscapes & mental health at Stonehenge

Stonehenge in the sunshineCongratulations to colleagues on the recently funded project “Human Henge: Historic landscapes and mental health at Stonehenge”.  This research led by the Restoration Trust. The project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage Trust and Wiltshire County Council and has multiple partners and contributors including Wiltshire County Council, Richmond Fellowship, English Heritage Trust and Bournemouth University. From BU, Prof Tim Darvill (Director Centre of Archaeology, Faculty of Science & Technology) and Dr Vanessa Heaslip (Faculty of Health & Social Sciences) are engaged in this project.

The Human Henge research project is a therapeutic sensory experience of Stonehenge for two facilitated groups, each of up to 16 local people with mental health problems, plus carers, support workers, volunteers and staff. Over ten weekly three-hour sessions, one at night, each group walks the landscape, reaching through time to other humans whose traces are illuminated by accompanying pre-historians, curators and artists. Individual experiences cohere in a shared spoken epic which is augmented from session to session. The groups arrive inside the Stone Circle near the winter solstice and spring equinox; collaborating with their chosen artist, they decide what they do there.


Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen



Understanding disabled women’s experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting

Birthrights, a national charity for the rights of women during pregnancy and childbirth has today launched the interim report of a study undertaken by staff from Bournemouth University and the University of Liverpool, about the experiences of disabled women during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting.

The current work arises following their 2013 Dignity in Childbirth survey which highlighted less positive experiences of women who identified themselves as disabled (Birthrights 2013). In response, Birthrights commissioned research to explore the experiences of disabled women throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the first few post-natal weeks (the pregnancy continuum). A multidisciplinary team, comprising of Dr Jenny Hall, Jilly Ireland and Professor Vanora Hundley from CMMPH and Dr Bethan Collins from the University of Liverpool, have just completed the first phase of the study, which has been released by Birthrights as an interim report today. This first phase of the study used an online survey to identify experiences of women in the UK and Ireland with physical or sensory impairment or long term health conditions during the pregnancy continuum.

Although overall satisfaction with services in general was scored highly by most women, challenges were described in women’s experiences. These included lack of continuity of carer, meaning that women needed to repeat their information again and again; women feeling that they were not being listened to, which reduced their feeling of choice and control; feeling they were treated less favourably because of their disability. More than half of the women (56%) felt that maternity care providers did not have appropriate attitudes to disability. Accessibility of services was also highlighted as poor, in some situations.

These findings resonate with recommendations from the recent maternity services review (National Maternity review 2016), which highlights the importance of personalised care, that is woman-centred, with opportunity for choice and control, and continuity of carer for everyone. The current study highlights how imperative this approach is for disabled women.

A follow-up qualitative study is underway to establish in-depth views and experiences of human rights and dignity of disabled women during the pregnancy continuum to develop our understanding of how best to enable this group. This second phase is due to be completed in Spring 2017.

The Interim report outlining the results from phase 1 is released today by Birthrights and may be found on the CMMPH web site.

TV, Film and Photoshoot Networking Event


When: Wednesday 21 September 2016

Time: 6.00pm – 9.00pm

Where: Aruba Beach Restaurant – Pier Approach, Bournemouth, BH2 5AA

Book your tickets here.


Dorset Film Office aims to support, develop and build a strong creative community.  Don’t miss out on ethe Dorset Film Office launch.

  • Need to find out about more opportunities?
  • Want to find more work in your local area?
  • Looking to increase lead generation?
  • Looking to raise brand awareness?
  • Looking to grow your network and forge new relationships?
  • Want to create strategic alliances?

Click here fore more information or phone 01202 980000

Book your free ticket to secure your place: Dorset Film Office Launch


Engaging the social sciences with business

esrc logo

A recent report published by the ESRC shows that social scientists are becoming increasingly engaged through their research. This is testament to how the knowledge exchange agenda has become embedded and been embraced. That said, what disciplines are involved varies, as does who they are engaging with. It is also striking, if not entirely unsurprising, that social scientists are more likely to engage with charitable and public sector organisations (49%) than with businesses (30%).

There are, of course, many reasons for this. However, it is important to emphasise that this is not for a lack of relevant insight! Indeed, this raises an important question about how the social sciences can and should engage with businesses to realise the impact of research-based insights. If opportunities for businesses engagement are in the eye of the beholder, then there is a need to make social scientists more aware about the possibilities. If we cannot identify our own value, we cannot expect others to see it.

Engaging with business is not the privileged domain of engineering and the sciences. The challenge, however, is ensuring that the value of the social sciences is not overlooked by businesses, or worse goes unrecognised. The onus, therefore, is on social scientists to demonstrate the relevance of their research to business,  just as they have to charitable and public sector organisations. This is about translation, making research insights accessible where the findings are non-obvious and engaging with businesses to co-produce new knowledge.

Click here to find out more about this research and the academics involved in this area of work.