Project IIRP17

SPLENDID: Social Prescribing for people to live enjoyably with dementia/memory problems in daily life

This study (called SPLENDID) aims to understand how we ensure social prescribing is useful and helpful to people with dementia.


In the UK, there are 850,000 people living with dementia. Guidance states people living with dementia should be offered tailored interventions including non-medication approaches such as lifestyle interventions and social support interventions. Healthcare systems have struggled to respond adequately to this growing burden of complex needs. In the absence of adequate tailored support, complex needs like sleep and behavioural problems, anxiety and low mood associated with isolation could be inappropriately medicalised. Alternative approaches are urgently needed and Social Prescribing may be a way to deliver this and answer - Does a Co-designed Social Prescribing pathway for people living with dementia provide benefit and is it implementable in current health and social care systems?

SPLENDID researchers will talk with people with dementia, family carers and staff working in social prescribing to understand what people want, what works well and what could be improved. We will use this to design, with people with dementia, what looks like the best way for social prescribing with people with dementia. We will create some tools (online and face-to-face) to help workers and people with dementia talk and think together about what might help them. We will test it with a small group of people to see if it helps and look at what training Link-Workers need to offer the best support for people with dementia and their families. We then decide if this should be taken forward and tested in a larger study to see if it improves peoples’ well-being and is value for money.

Project Aims

SPLENDID aims to:

  • describe the components necessary to deliver a sustained and effective model of Social Prescribing for people living with dementia
  • describe the expected outcomes/impact of social prescribing to inform future service/resource allocation and planning
  • implement and evaluate a Social Prescribing intervention for people living with dementia co-developed with people with dementia, family carers, and stakeholders

Project Activity

Our team met 8 people with dementia and 8 family carers to design this study. We have 2 co-researchers who are living with dementia. 150 people with dementia were surveyed to see what social prescribing is currently being offered and found people were doing a range of outdoor and indoor activities, some with family which they enjoyed and found helpful. People with dementia and carers will be on our Committees, and several dementia charities support this work.

Anticipated Impact

There is the potential for widespread impact due to the possibilities offered by Social Prescribing for people living with dementia and their families. Dissemination will be proactively managed and deliver for academic, policy, professional/practitioner and lay audiences.

Who is involved?

Joint leads:

  • Professor Chris Fox, University of Exeter
  • Dr Jane Cross, University of East Anglia

Co- investigators:

  • Professor Fiona Poland, University of East Anglia
  • Professor Lee Shepstone, University of East Anglia
  • Dr Emma Wolverson, University of Hull
  • Professor Joanne Reeve, University of Hull
  • Professor Esme Moniz-Cook, University of Hull
  • Professor Martin Orrell, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Anthony Avery, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Louise Allan, University of Exeter
  • Professor Antonieta Medina-Lara, University of Exeter
  • Dr Katherine Bradbury, University of Southampton
  • Dr Euan Sadler, University of Southampton
  • Dr Marie Polley, Meaningful Measures Ltd
  • Dr Kritika Samsi, King's College London
  • Professor Dame Louise Robinson, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • George Rook (representing People Living With Dementia)
  • Anne Irvine (Carers of those living with dementia)

Papers/ resources

Our website will offer free resources put together with people with dementia and carers. Our findings will be shared locally and nationally using links we have with universities, clinical experts, press, social media, workshops with people who commission and provide local services. We will publish in academic and professional journals and present at scientific and public conferences.


Dr Chris Fox, University of Exeter