With 820,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia and this figure expected to rise, it is widely agreed that better provision needs to be made for dementia care and that this must include a significant rise in the number of appropriately-trained people taking on nursing and care worker jobs.

Now a new initiative organised by Dementia UK has established a forum to help initiate, develop and standardise courses in dementia care in universities across the country.

The first participant in the Higher Education for Dementia Network (HEDN) is the University of Cumbria, which has developed a new curriculum that will be embedded in its various health and social care programmes.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for those who provide services to people with dementia, as education specialising in dementia care is now gaining the recognition that it deserves,” said Linda Morrison, who is responsible for the university’s foundation degree in health and social care.

The launch comes just days after two new pieces of research into dementia were released. One of these studies, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that taking a vitamin E supplement daily can help people affected by mild Alzheimer’s disease to maintain their independence for longer.

The other, conducted by the University of California, linked dementia to poor diet and high cholesterol, suggesting that general healthy lifestyle advice from care practitioners could help to prevent new cases of the condition from developing in the future.