McKesson UK hosts focus group to support vital dementia research

As part of a partnership with Alzheimer’s Society and University College London, leading healthcare organisation McKesson UK (which includes LloydsPharmacy) held an employee focus group to provide feedback and insights for a dementia research project.  

The research project, supported by Alzheimer’s Society and funded by McKesson UK, is looking at how speech patterns can be used to spot early signs of dementia. Professor Rosemary Varley from University College London (UCL) is leading the study and expects that the findings will be applicable to a wide range of situations, including healthcare.

Professor Varley commented: “We know very little about the communication difficulties of people with dementia in everyday situations – such as understanding dose information for medications or how to deal with altered communicative behaviour such as repeated questions. By working with McKesson employees we have been able to learn more about their experience of dealing with people living with dementia and explore how our findings about language and communication for people with dementia can be used to improve everyday situations, like visiting a pharmacy for example.”

The research project began in January 2017 and is due to be completed later this year. As well as focus groups, the study has used computer software to identify changes in language patterns and is investigating whether certain patterns of language are better understood by people with dementia. At the end of the project the researchers will produce new resources to support better communication between people living with dementia and their families; these resources will be freely available to families, clinicians and carers.

McKesson CEO Toby Anderson said: “We have over 1,500 pharmacies based in the community, as well as hundreds of nurses that provide personalised care for patients every day. Many of the people our teams interact with have been affected by dementia – whether it’s them or their loved ones living with the condition. That means that we are ideally placed to advise and support research like this. Managing medication can be complicated, but especially for someone with dementia. By supporting this research, we hope to help more people understand how the language they use can make a big difference.”

McKesson UK has been an official charity partner of Alzheimer’s Society since 2015. In that time, it has recruited over 28,000 employees as Dementia Friends and raised over £600,000 through colleague-led fundraising.