Investigating Brain Health During A National Pandemic

Since our temporary pause of all visits earlier this year, the PREVENT Dementia team has been working hard behind the scenes to resume study visits.

Dementia prevention remains to be a global and urgent priority. Therefore, we are grateful that we have now been able to resume research activity at some of our sites. We have been able to welcome back our committed volunteers to 2 of our 5 sites, the most recent being Edinburgh! One participant kindly shared the following feedback:

“At all times, (I) felt really safe and protected. Everyone I came in to contact with wore a mask and socially distanced as much as possible. Everyone I dealt with was really professional and helpful. I’ve been really proud to be a part of something which could help other families from suffering the heartbreak we’ve experienced with my mum and my brothers also now want to take part in the study!’”

 We hope to reopen the remaining in the new year. In London we will be welcoming our first cohort of participants back for the third time, which means PREVENT Dementia will have reached an amazing milestone in our mission to gather the information required to uncover the mechanisms of effective dementia prevention.

Despite our desire to maintain momentum this year, it has been vital that the safety, wellbeing and preferences of participants, and their families, came first.

Therefore, we have worked closely both with our participant panel and the clinical research teams to establish the procedures that ensure that our participants and staff feel comfortable while staying safe.

These measures include:

  • Limits on the number of people in the building at one time. Alcohol gel stations are available throughout for use. Equipment is cleaned before and after use.
  • The study team wear PPE and follow government advice, including testing and self-isolation
  • Participants are encouraged to wear masks, wash hands often and consume only their own food and drink to avoid sharing of cutlery or crockery.
  • Participants are contacted 1 working day before their visit to check for symptoms of COVID-19. Participants and study staff are asked not to attend if they have symptoms within 10 days of a visit or have been asked to self-isolate 14 days before a visit
  • Activities with greater infection risk, such as the physical examinations, have been removed
  • Participants encouraged to make their own decision about whether they are ready to come to their visit or if they want to wait until a later date.

While some of the logistics of our clinic visits may have changed, research participation remains to be a positive experience for many of our volunteers and we are grateful to have received this feedback from another participant:

‘I was proud to be able to volunteer for such a worthy research programme, and delighted that it was up and running again after lockdown. I had every faith that the PREVENT team in Edinburgh would have all the necessary precautions in place to keep me safe during my participation. I believe this is important research that could go a long way to finding the answers we need to combat this dreadful disease.’

 While many individuals are happy to resume visits during this time, we understand that this might not be appropriate for everyone (e.g., individuals who are, or is in contact with someone in the higher risk category).

All participants are, encouraged to make their own decision about whether they are ready to come to their visit, or if they want to wait until a later date.

When the right time comes, we look forward to welcoming back each of our invaluable volunteers. In the meantime, we hope that everyone may stays safe and well.

-The PREVENT Dementia team.