All 2012

New Report on Dementia in Ireland Launched by Minister for Health

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A report that will lay the foundation for Ireland’s first National Strategy for Dementia was launched by the Minister for Health, James Reilly, in Trinity College Dublin today (January 18, 2012).  The report estimates prevalence rates of dementia in Ireland; quantifies the economic and social costs of dementia; assesses current service availability for people with dementia and best practice in dementia care nationally and internationally. It was launched on the occasion of the opening of the conference ‘Developing a National Dementia Strategy’. Creating Excellence in Dementia Care: A Research Review for Ireland’s National Dementia Strategy − is the result of a joint collaboration between researchers at the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway (Professor Eamon O’Shea) and the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre’s Living with Dementia research programme at Trinity College Dublin and St James’s Hospital (TCD Associate Professor Suzanne Cahill and Dr Maria Pierce). The report was funded by Atlantic Philanthropies to provide evidence-based research for the purpose of supporting the development of a National Dementia Strategy, which the Government has promised to develop by 2013. “The next stage of the process in developing a national strategy will require direct consultation with people with dementia, their family members and with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the development of an inclusive and holistic strategy on dementia that will stand the test of time and will reflect the needs and interests of the key stakeholders. Policy formulation and implementation for dementia requires the direct involvement of the Department of Health and consultation with a much wider coalition of interests and stakeholders,” concluded co-author, NUI Galway’s Professor Eamon O’Shea. Commenting on the significance of the research, Trinity Associate Professor Suzanne Cahill said: “At a time when across Europe, much progress has been made in mobilising joint action in the fight against dementia, dementia remains hidden and largely invisible in Ireland and is a hugely underfunded and underprioritised health issue in the country. Several countries including England, France, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Australia have now well developed strategies, some indeed being onto their second and third iterations. The recent government promise of a new National Dementia Strategy for Ireland by 2013 is both opportune and timely. Although the number of people with dementia is set to rise significantly, having an evidence base available to inform the direction of future public policy on dementia makes it a lot easier to design care services supporting the individual and family members to live well with dementia and to die in dignity with dementia.” There are about 41,740 people with dementia in Ireland*, of whom 26,000 live at home. An estimated 3,583 (approximately 8.6% of all people with dementia) have early onset dementia.  Approximately 4,000 new cases of dementia arise in the general Irish population every year and the incidence of dementia is higher than cancer and heart disease with numbers expected to more than treble over the next thirty years. The research review suggests that the majority of the 26,104 people with dementia living at home in the community most probably do not have a formal diagnosis. This has implications for individuals and families planning for an uncertain future and for developing appropriate pathways to care. There are an estimated 50,000 family carers in Ireland looking after someone with at least one of six specified symptoms of dementia. The review suggests that about two-thirds of all long-stay residents in the country have dementia with many of these people again not having a formal diagnosis. The economic and social costs of dementiaThe report estimates the overall cost of dementia in Ireland to be just over €1.69 billion per annum, 48% of which is attributable to informal care provided by family and friends to those living with dementia in the community. A further 43% is accounted for by residential long-stay care, while other formal health and social care services contribute only 9% to the total costs of dementia. Consistent with per capita estimates from other countries, the average cost per person with dementia in Ireland is estimated at €40,500. Improving care in the community and providing greater support for families will require additional public spending, including having to make difficult choices about the reallocation of some of the existing institutional resources to community care given the perilous state of the public finances. Gaps in Service ProvisionIn Ireland, early diagnosis, and sometimes any diagnosis, is the exception rather than the rule and Irish GPs like their European counterparts experience difficulty diagnosing this illness and would welcome more training and resources.  Family caregivers are the linchpin to the success of community care but only a small proportion of people with dementia are receiving critical services such as day care, public health nursing, home care packages and respite.  Community care services for people with dementia and their carers remain under-developed, inequitable, and fragmented. In this country very few people with dementia have been allocated a case manager (the approach taken in some European countries) to directly represent their interests. One of the resounding weaknesses of Irish home care services is that these services are not underpinned by legislation nor are they provided on a statutory basis. In the absence of the required level of community support, people with dementia will continue to be placed in long-term care prematurely. People with dementia sometimes end up in hospital A&E departments or as in-patients in these hospitals, settings far from ideal given their unique and complex needs. Formal assessment and diagnosis of patients admitted to hospital who might have dementia is a necessary condition for better care and support, including appropriate long-term placement. A review of care for people with dementia in acute care settings in Ireland is urgently needed. A dementia champions’ programme in acute hospitals would facilitate a more person-centred approach to care.  Two thirds of people in long stay care are estimated to have dementia. In Ireland there are few alternates to the nursing home model of care and whilst some facilities have dementia specific beds these are the exception rather than the rule.  International evidence suggests a trend towards providing care for people with dementia in long-stay settings in small-scale (maximum of 8 to 10) homely and specialised care settings. Key elements for the new Strategy arising from the research: greater emphasis on primary prevention and on ways of avoiding or delaying the illness particularly through reducing  heart disease and stroke enhanced public awareness about dementia early diagnosis through improving access to memory clinics and enhanced multidisciplinary training and education in dementia for primary care workers, hospital staff and people working in long-stay settings case management models of integrated care expansion of dedicated and flexible community-based services, for example, day care services and family support programmes, for people with dementia and their carers development of new and expanded psychosocial approaches to complement existing medical and neurological models of service delivery in the community and in residential care units development of small-scale, appropriately designed, residential care units greater awareness, ownership and leadership of dementia in the acute care sector further expansion and availability of palliative care services for people dying of and with a dementia development of appropriate services for people with early-onset dementia, including people with Down syndrome enhanced information systems on the number of people with dementia, severity of the disease, placement patterns and quality of life.-ends-  

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Galway to host Centenary Club and Sigerson Reunion

Friday, 20 January 2012

College football clubs around the country are currently training hard for the Sigerson Cup Competition, which will be hosted this year by the Gaelic Football Club at NUI Galway on 24 and 25 February.  To coincide with the competition, a group of current and past club members have come together, to organise a special Centenary Club and Sigerson  Reunion.  The event is for all former ‘UCG’ players, trainers, coaches, officers and members of the Club throughout the decades.  The event will take place at the Radisson Hotel, Galway on Friday, February 24, 2012. The year 2012 is a very significant anniversary for the Gaelic Football Club at NUI Galway which was founded in 1911-12 and which won the Sigerson Competition for the first time in 1912.   For the 2012 Reunion, the 1962 – 63 Sigerson team members will be guests of honour in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of their wins in both 1962 and 1963.  All other winning Galway Sigerson teams of the last sixty years are also invited to join as special guests for the celebration. While the organisers of this year’s Reunion are keen to celebrate the success of the many successful Sigerson teams, they also stress that this event will be a Centenary celebration of all past Sigerson Competitions, won or lost, and of the Club’s achievements since its foundation.  It is expected that former members will travel from all over the country, to renew acquaintances, recall former matches and enjoy the atmosphere at what promises to be a wonderful occasion!  A special Centenary Sigerson programme is also being prepared for the weekend event. As well as organising the Reunion, the current NUI Galway Gaelic Football Club is actively preparing to host the Sigerson Cup Competition in Galway this year, so it’s a case of ‘all hands on deck’, to prepare for what will be a great sporting and social weekend.  Ends

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Jobs Available for Electronics and Computer Engineering Grads

Friday, 20 January 2012

Graduates from the Electronic and Computer Engineering programme (CAO code GY406) at NUI Galway are experiencing demand for their skills far beyond anything they could have ever imagined when they entered the course. At a time when the country is experiencing some of the most significant financial turmoil, with hundreds of thousands out of work, this particular cohort of graduates from NUI Galway is experiencing a boom, with many of the students securing jobs long before they even finish their course of study. According to programme director for Electronic and Computer Engineering at NUI Galway, Dr Martin Glavin: “The jobs are there, and they are there in very signficant numbers for our graduates. Recent surveys from the careers office at NUI Galway show full employment for graduates of the programme for the last number of years. In fact, the country is experiencing a shortage of graduates with skills in the areas of electronics, software development and computing.” Dr Glavin added: “Our graduates are in demand across a very wide range of industry sectors ranging from ICT to financial services, so they are well protected from the natural ups and downs of any one sector. Furthermore, all the indications are that the demand will still be there for many years to come with most high tech companies seeing a very bright future in this country. Secondary school students filling out their CAO forms should give serious consideration to a career in the electronics and computing sector.” Electronic and Computer Engineering is a course that integrates two separate engineering fields to meet the joint demands made by a wide range of industries in today's world. This programme combines coursework in different aspects of both fields over four years, with an emphasis on the design of computing systems. Electronics and computers, and their joint applications, are playing an ever increasing role in our lives, with everything from smartphones to space rockets using electronic hardware (circuits) and computer software integrated together. Paul Killoran, a graduate of the Electronic and Computer Engineering programme, now running his own startup company, Ex Ordo commented: “We can’t find Irish graduates to fill highly paid Irish jobs. Some of the best Irish jobs cannot be filled by Irish engineers because we don’t have the talent pool here. Our latest hire came from Argentina and our future developers will probably come from abroad because I really can’t find any engineers in Ireland, and believe me, I’ve tried!” Companies who design integrated electronics and computer systems require engineers who possess the software skills to complement traditional electronic hardware skills. The Electronic and Computer Engineering degree programme has been developed in response to these industry demands to develop students' hardware and software engineering skills in an integrated way and the analytical powers to apply them jointly. Another graduate of the programme and recent winner of the Best Developer award at the 2011 Appys, Vinny Coyne adds: “The mobile app development business is booming and this is why I set up my own company, App Sandwich. However, I really struggle to find developers with the skills that we need as a company because there simply are not enough second level students entering programmes like the Electronic and Computer Engineering programme in NUI Galway. We need to start encouraging our best and brightest into these types of courses because this is where the jobs and growth potential will be in the years ahead.” Graduates of Electronics and Computer Engineering (GY406) at NUI Galway are ideally placed to pursue their specialism in ICT, which has wide applicability both national and international, with many indigenous technology companies and the multinational sectors. Applications through CAO should be submitted by Wednesday, 1 February, 2012. ENDS  

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NUI Galway Fair showcases over 400 Postgraduate Programmes at Open Day

Monday, 23 January 2012

The annual NUI Galway Postgraduate Open Day takes place on Wednesday, 1 February, from 12 to 4pm in the Bailey Allen Hall, Áras na Mac Léinn. Almost 3,500 postgraduate students currently attend NUI Galway, making it one of Ireland’s most popular universities for postgraduate study. The Open Day will showcase over 400 of NUI Galway’s full-time and part-time postgraduate programmes, including taught and research masters, and doctoral research options.The Open Day will focus on the benefits of doing a postgraduate programme and the practicalities of making an application. 80 information stands will provide details on postgraduate opportunities at NUI Galway, with academic staff and current students on hand to answer questions about specific courses.According to John Hannon, Head of NUI Galway’s Career Development Centre: “In the current economic climate, there is increased interest among undergraduate students in staying in education by pursuing postgraduate studies. A postgraduate qualification can provide a real career boost. Undoubtedly, it can maximise career prospects and earnings.”NUI Galway offers a wide range of fourth level courses, developing programmes based on its traditional academic strengths of Arts, Social Sciences, Celtic Studies, Commerce, Medicine, Nursing, Health Science, Law, Engineering, Informatics and Science. These areas have been augmented with innovative Research Centres in areas as diverse as Biomedical Science and Engineering, International Human Rights, Digital Media & Film Studies, and Regenerative Medicine.Valerie Leahy, Postgraduate Admissions Officer, adds: “People are always interested in up-skilling, improving their qualifications and their employability. With so many options available at postgraduate level, people must choose carefully. The Postgraduate Open Day offers the opportunity to talk to lecturers and current postgraduate students. My advice would be to apply early and often as you can make up to three applications online at” Information on scholarships, fees and other practical considerations will also be made available to prospective students on the day.To book your place at the Open Day visit or you can register on the day. -ends-  

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Arthritis Researchers Ask for Views of Patients and Public

Monday, 23 January 2012

Osteoarthritis researchers at NUI Galway are part of a new European project which is looking to incorporate the views of patients and the general public at the earliest stages of research. As part of the EU-funded GAMBA project, the University is looking for osteoarthritis patients who would like to learn about new therapy approaches and are willing to evaluate theses approaches from a patient’s point of view. The patients should be resident in Galway, be at least 18 years old, and be available for four days in March 2012. The views of the general public will be sought in early summer. Osteoarthritis is a very common joint disease, which can impact quite severely on the quality of life of patients. At the age of 65 most people are affected, and women are more commonly affected than men. Symptoms such as restricted mobility and pain can be alleviated and the progression of the disease can be slowed, but up to now it is not possible to heal the disease. For the consultation project, based at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, the participants will be introduced to the topics of innovative basic research into osteoarthritis and – depending on interest – further background information on gene therapy, stem cell research and nanomedicine. “We are really planning to engage with the people who arguably know most about arthritis, the sufferers. What is it that patients need and want? Will it be possible to regrow bones, to generate cartilage in the body and to stop joint inflammation effectively in 20 years time? What risks and ethical aspects are associated with such visions? These are just some of the questions we want to discuss”, said Dr Mary Murphy, REMEDI, NUI Galway. Dr Murphy added: “Until now, the evaluation of the risks associated with new health technologies are normally left to the experts. New therapy approaches usually don’t come to the attention of patients and society until they are tested in clinical trials or once the products are launched on the market. However, NUI Galway is actively inviting those suffering from osteoarthritis and the general public to contact them, so share their own insights with scientific experts.” All the sessions will be supported by a experienced team of moderators, who will ensure that the information supplied is comprehensible. As part of the GAMBA project (Gene Activated Matrices for Bone and Cartilage Regeneration in Arthritis) researchers at REMEDI are involved in developing new methods for the treatment of osteoarthritis. In collaboration with nine partner institutions from Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland, researchers in REMEDI hope it might be possible to heal diseased joints in 10 to 20 years. This would be done by introducing a combination of biomaterials, stem cells harvested from the patient, gene vectors and nanoparticles directly into the diseased tissue. “The hope is”, explains Dr Murphy, “that these enriched biomaterials could make a regeneration of the joints possible.” The application form and further information are available online or can be requested on 091 49 4276. The main website for the project is -ends-

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