This week our guest blog is from Dr Rhoda MacRae, Lecturer in Dementia with the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice. Rhoda is a sociologist, with over 15 years of post-doctoral research experience. She has been involved in a number of dementia related research projects nationally and internationally. Notably Rhoda was research co-ordinator of the Dementia Palliare European project which designed a number of educational outputs to support advanced dementia care practice. She is currently co-applicant on two grants: one is to design education for healthcare practitioners to support family caregivers and the other is the development of an app to support family care givers of people with rare dementias. Rhoda is a core member of the National Dementia Champions Programme teaching team.

In Rhoda’s blog, she is providing us insight into her recent research visit to Canada, highlighting the strength of Scotland’s international research links and the benefits of collaboration with institutions outside of Scotland.


I have been working with Canadian colleagues on two grants.  One is a Planning and Dissemination Grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research. The aim of the grant is to design education for healthcare workforce to enable them to better support family caregivers of seniors in care.  It is really exciting to work with such a large diverse team.  Leading the grant is Covenant Health (a large healthcare provider) the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. I am a co-applicant along with colleagues from McMaster University, MacEwan University and Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam.

I recently spent time in Edmonton working on the grant outputs with my fellow applicants, family caregivers and healthcare professionals, policy makers, educators and managers. One of four plenary speakers at the two day event, I talked about how we can increase the impact of education through applying the theory of learning transfer. I used the delivery the National Dementia Champions programme as an illustrative example.

I am also working with Associate Professor Shelley Peacock, Faculty of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan who is leading a project to adapt a caregiver co-designed mental wellness app for rural caregivers of persons with dementia: RuralCARES. This is funded by a Collaborative Innovation Development Grant from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation. The app will support caregivers of people with atypical dementias, commonly young onset, living in remote and rural areas participate in Telehealth support groups. We hope the app will inform the way Alzheimer Societies offer support services to rural caregivers.

While in Edmonton I was invited to give a seminar to colleagues at the University of Alberta. I am collaborating with Professor Wendy Duggleby, Associate Dean of Research, Nursing Research Chair in Aging and Quality of Life, University of Alberta on adapting an online psychosocial intervention for caregivers that Wendy and colleagues have feasibility tested and is now operational in Alberta. Along with Alzheimer Scotland we are currently seeking funding to adapt the tool for caregivers in Scotland.

Alberta has recently developed its own Dementia Strategy and Covenant Health were keen for stakeholders involved to hear about the dementia policy and practice landscape in Scotland. So I found myself at a dinner talking to over 30 people, it was great to talk to such an interested audience. As always the Canadian hospitality was amazing and generous. I am looking forward to returning this hospitality when the two grant leads spend time with us at the ASCPP and Alzheimer Scotland in May.

Follow Dr Rohda MacRae on Twitter: @macsoda1

Click here to find out more about the Alzheimer Scotland’s Centre for Policy and Practice at the University of the West of Scotland 

Are you involved in dementia research in Scotland and would like to write a blog for the SDRC website? Contact us to let us know!