This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Case study: Woman wants to transform south London dementia research

Woman wants to transform south London dementia research

A go-getting young woman wants to work with south London researchers to transform the lives of people with dementia to honour her grandfather's memory.

Rianna Patterson, 25, based in St Leonards, Hastings, in East Sussex, founded the Dominica Dementia Foundation. The organisation holds support groups and provides financial assistance for people with a relative living with the condition.

The 25-year-old is keen to work with the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) South London's Inclusivity Panel and other organisations to drive change so everyone can benefit from vital dementia research. The Inclusivity Panel ensures research is representative of the south London region and is based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. She said:

"My grandfather, Terry Vidal, died aged 80 from dementia in 2013 when I was 16. My grandfather was born in the Commonwealth of Dominica, and his death catalysed me to set up the foundation. I still miss his support, love and guidance. I wanted to use the pain of what happened to help ease the impact dementia has on individuals and families. I founded the Dominica Dementia Foundation in 2016 at 18, and within a year, I met her late majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen presented me with a Queen's Young Leaders Award. She was pleased to hear about our work. The experience was humbling, and it was a true honour for me and the team to be recognised by her.

"We need more people involved in dementia research to ensure treatments work for everyone. Researchers need to be able to make information more digestible for families and communities because it affects everyone, not just the people living with dementia but the people who love and care for them, too. I want to become a researcher and use my knowledge and experience to give back to our communities.

"The NIHR Clinical Research Network does vital work ensuring people's voices are heard in research. I would strongly encourage others to register their interest in research through the Join Dementia Research service because we need as many people as possible to take part in dementia studies so that we can truly change things for the better!"

Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline in brain function. There are many different causes and types of dementia. According to Alzheimer's Research UK, one million people in the UK will have dementia by 2025. According to the NHS, the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia in the UK, is not fully understood.

Join Dementia Research aims to make a difference for people affected by dementia through research. It is a nationwide service that enables anyone aged 18 or over in the UK to find and take part in vital dementia research studies. People with dementia, their carers, and anyone interested in research can sign up.

You can learn more about Rianna’s Queen’s Young Leaders Award on The Queen’s Young Leaders website

Email if you'd like to find out more about CRN South London's Inclusivity Panel.