Oak Bay couple funds dementia research

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A research project to improve dementia diagnosis and treatment has been launched with a $2.5 million pledge by an Oak Bay couple, Neil and Susan Manning. Susan Manning was diagnosed with dementia two years ago.
The innovative five-year project to integrate leading-edge research and care for patients living with cognitive health issues on Vancouver Island was announced Thursday at Royal Jubilee Hospital.
The Mannings have inspired Island Health, the University of Victoria (UVic) and the University of British Columbia (UBC) to partner and develop The Neil and Susan Manning Cognitive Health Initiative, a research project that aims to improve the diagnosis and treatment of dementia.
UVic’s Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health is a key partner and is internationally known in the area of dementia research.
“When a cognitive health illness impacted our family and we began to understand this issue, we realized that while much research had been done, there is still so much more to do to solve the riddles around cognitive diseases,” said Neil Manning.
“We reached out to the healthcare professionals in Victoria, as it is our home, and asked how can we help? The vision they created for this project resonated with us. For the past two years all the partners here today have worked to finalize the details for this Initiative. It is our great hope that the knowledge gathered will, in time, help thousands of patients.”
This visionary project will see the development of state-of-the-art digital tools for early diagnosis, the integration of research protocols into patient care, and the tracking of dementia patients throughout Vancouver Island into a single real-time Dementia Guidance System database that will track and cluster patient’s symptoms, treatment plans and outcomes.
Over time, these tools will be available for use by family physicians to assist with early diagnosis and care across Vancouver Island. “This program demonstrates the power of philanthropy for research that aims to transform care,” said Bruce Dyck, incoming Chair of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation.
“This gift, which is the first significant research gift to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation, will bring together some of our best researchers and clinicians to create an unequalled legacy of healthcare that will improve dementia care for people across Vancouver Island.”
For Island Health, there is a compelling need to learn more about this complex and devastating illness, and how best to help patients and their families. In addition to having a high population of older adults, Vancouver Island is experiencing a “rising tide” of dementia, with many types of dementia and advanced and complex cases. Fortunately, the family physicians, clinics, hospitals and community care services that treat patients with cognitive health issues all operate under a single health authority (Island Health) creating an ideal environment in which to conduct clinical and health services research.
“If you have had a family member impacted by a cognitive health issue you know how devastating the diagnosis can be,” said Leah Hollins, Board Chair of Island Health. “As this program unfolds, clinicians from Island Health and researchers from UVic will design and run a collection of cognitive health disorder studies. They will also engage medical professionals, giving them the opportunity to conduct research with their patients and deliver quality care simultaneously.”

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