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Co-designing dementia care for better value

About the project

This is a six-year (2015-2021) action research study being conducted in County Durham with the aim of improving care for people living with dementia and their families, at a time when there are significant pressures on spending in the NHS and social services.

The co-creation approach adopted involves including a wide range of local people (known as stakeholders) in decisions about which improvements the project should focus on. After deciding on the areas of focus, we then jointly design the improvements and implement each in practise. Then we try to find out what difference the improvements make. This is a significant case study of co-creation and an overarching aspect is to examine the benefits and drawbacks of a co-creation approach.

Areas of improvement

The three areas of improvement chosen by local stakeholders are:

  • Improving access of people living with dementia to information about dementia support and services
  • Improving access to services outside usual working hours
  • Improving carers’ access to support.


The project has been funded by the Health Foundation (£476,254) and is led by Dr Mara Airoldi, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. The others in the team are Richard Glover, who works for North-East Commissioning Services; Chiara De Poli, a PhD student in social policy at the London School of Economics and Jan Oyebode, Professor of Dementia Care at the University of Bradford. Jan brings her knowledge of dementia care to the team.