A CHESTER charity has teamed up with a university for a pioneering new study into the ways dementia is assessed in a clinical environment for those with hearing and eyesight loss.

The work by Deafness Support Network (DSN) and the University of Manchester could lead to an overhaul of NHS tests for dementia.

The two-year study will be conducted by DSN Research Fellow at the university, Dr Jenna Littlejohn, and Dr Piers Dawes, Senior Lecturer in Audiology.

Currently, verbally administered cognitive tests are carried out with people having symptoms of dementia which include memory loss and difficulties with attention, problem-solving or language.

But hearing or visual loss may impact performance on these cognitive tests, leading to misdiagnosis.

Dr Littlejohn, who carried out PhD research into the links between age related hearing loss and dementia, will lead the post-doctoral study.

She said: “It’s really important that sensory impairment is taken into account as part of the diagnostic process. At the moment, even though NICE guidelines say to take sensory impairment into account, they do not state how this should be done. We want to help those with a sensory loss get diagnosed correctly so that they can receive the appropriate help.”

Over the next two years Dr Littlejohn will work with clinicians, carers, families of patients and those under assessment for dementia in the Cheshire and Manchester areas.

Pier Dawes, Senior Lecturer at the university, said: “We’re grateful for the support from Deafness Support Network for this project and look forward to important results that will improve memory services for people with sensory impairment.”

For more information about the study and its progress, download the DSN App for iPhone go to: https://goo.gl/BbpKfV or for Android go to: https://goo.gl/asJkVG or search ‘Deafness Support Network’ on your app store on your device.