Bath postgraduate Aron Jarvis has been selected by the Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) as their first ever PhD Fellow.

Mr Jarvis’ research, which will take place at the University, will involve using data from a large, electronic healthcare database to investigate symptoms of psychological distress in people with dementia. Mr Jarvis' objective is to determine the impact of psychological distress on a person with dementia. He also hopes to shed light on how psychological distress affects patients’ ongoing health and health outcomes.

He says: “I’m thankful to the team at RICE for this opportunity, as undertaking a PhD on dementia has been a major goal for me in recent years.’

Based in Bath at the Royal United Hospital (RUH), The RICE Centre is an internationally recognised research and treatment centre dedicated to improving the quality of life for older people through its research and support for those with dementia, along with their families and carers.

The aim of the charity is to fight for a cure for dementia, other conditions of older age (including Parkinson’s disease) and the decline of bone and muscle health - which has a strong impact on the wellbeing of older people and their families.

The new RICE fellowship programme has been established to expand the existing research capacity at the institute. The three-year PhD study has been funded by the Medlock Charitable Trust, which supports local charities working with the young, elderly, disabled or vulnerable.

Anita McGrogan, senior lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at Bath, will be supervising Mr Jarvis for his PhD. She says: “It’s really exciting to work with Aron and his team at RICE, who are experts in the field of dementia and the care of older people. I’m a statistician and love to be involved in the complex modelling of big data projects but I’m always keen to understand the connection between data and patients’ needs and outcomes.

“Working with RICE has the reciprocal benefit of providing us with the real-world experience their team has of working with dementia patients as well as being top researchers in their field.”

Tomas Welsh, Medical Director at The RICE Centre, adds: “We’re delighted to be hosting our first PhD student fellowship, and that Aron will be working with us over the next three years to help us understand more about psychological distress among dementia patients.

“Dementia is on the increase with more than 1-million people (in the UK) expected to have it by 2030, so it is vitally important that centres, like RICE, invest in research to learn more about the issues facing families so that treatments and support can meet their needs better.”

As well as researching new treatments for dementia, the charity hosts the NHS Memory Clinic for Bath and North East Somerset on behalf of the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BSW CCG). The Clinic receives referrals from local GPs, assesses patient’s memory and thinking skills, and provides treatment and medication for dementia.

The RICE Centre, which is funded by BaNES local authority and HCRG Care Group, also runs courses for carers and Cognitive Stimulation courses for patients. To date, the Memory Clinic has helped over 12,000 local people with memory problems and supported their families.