Charity’s innovative dementia debate

Published on: 02 Dec 2013

debate for local dementia research charity BRACEdebate for local dementia research charity BRACEdebate for local dementia research charity BRACE

Jonathan Dimbleby gave his time recently to chair a debate for local dementia research charity BRACE.

Mr Dimbleby, one of Britain’s best known and most respected broadcasters, helped BRACE recreate the “Any Questions?” format from the long running Radio 4 programme which he chairs.

Generously hosted by the University of the West of England, the debate brought together expertise from a wide range of perspectives on the panel and in the audience. As well as the 230 people in the packed lecture theatre, people at home were able to watch a live webcast. The recording of the debate is still available online -

The panel consisted of Dr Myra Conway (research scientist at UWE), Steve Webb MP (Minister for Pensions), Zara Ross (Head of Care at The St Monica Trust), Professor Seth Love (Professor of Neuropathology at the University of Bristol) and Beth Britton (campaigner – D4Dementia).

The audience included GPs, scientists, and representatives of the NHS and social services, as well as people whose own families have been affected by dementia.

Questions raised during the meeting included one about whose responsibility it was to care for people with dementia – individual families or government. Another asked whether it was realistic to think about being able to cure dementia. A doctor questioned whether the routine screening of older people for dementia was a good idea.

BRACE’s Chief Executive Mark Poarch said, “We were trying to prompt a debate both wider and deeper than is usually possible in such a public forum. By bringing together such a range of perspectives we hoped to encourage new thinking and help us all achieve a greater understanding of the issues.

The challenge was to knit care policy, clinical policy and scientific questions into a single debate which made sense as a whole. It is a tribute to the skill of Jonathan Dimbleby and the openness of the panellists that this was achieved.”

He added that the resulting discussion online showed that the debate had been a success in involving and connecting people from different backgrounds.

BRACE was founded in Bristol in 1987 and is currently based at Frenchay Hospital. It supports scientific research into Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia at universities in the West Country and South Wales.

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