This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.


We welcome your feedback, which will help improve this site.

Feedback form

18/06 - Enabling people to live well with dementia through interventions in a community setting



Please note: The Public Health Research (PHR) Programme would like to draw researchers’ attention to the commissioning brief below, which was first advertised in Spring 2018. This is a brief that we have previously advertised as a commissioned funding opportunity. We are still interested in receiving applications in this research area, as it remains a priority in our portfolio. However, please note that the commissioning brief, along with the underpinning literature searches, has not been updated since originally written.

Research Question(s)

  • Which interventions within a community environment (physical and social) make it easier for people with dementia to maintain quality of life and remain living in their community for longer?

Effective design features for producing dementia friendly environments at both the housing and neighbourhood levels, can help enable a person with dementia to maintain quality of life, continue normal routines and activities, and potentially enable them to remain at home for longer, and delay the need for a move into residential accommodation.

The concept of the “built” or “physical” environment is a term used to include all buildings, spaces and products created or modified by people. It includes homes, schools, parks/recreation areas, business areas, shops, and transportation systems (1). The physical environment is an important part of any community, and one that may be designed or adapted to support and enable people with dementia to remain living in their community for longer.

The social environment created by people within a community also has a role in helping people with dementia navigate and engage with their environment. Social inclusion, extent of dementia awareness in the local community, community education and participation of people in the communities in which people with dementia and their carers live, can help people with dementia safely navigate and remain engaged in their local communities. There is, however, little research that considers the relationship between physical and social properties of the environment; or the significance of emerging online communities and their role in network building, or enhancing social interaction to benefit people with dementia.

The following research is of interest:

  • Evaluations of interventions relating to design/adaptation of domestic housing, (examples may include but are not restricted to): interior lighting; flooring; design of furniture, design of kitchen and kitchen utensils; design of table mats, cutlery, crockery and glassware; design of door handles, toilet roll holders and soap dispensers and other fixtures and fittings; interior
  • Evaluations of interventions relating to the use of colour and tone on walls, skirting boards and flooring inside the domestic
  • Evaluation of interventions to enable people with dementia to access and use the built environment outside the home, (examples may include but are not restricted to): signage, outdoor lighting, provision of public toilets, paving and footpaths, seating and resting places, lighting in public spaces; and transport
  • Evaluation of interventions designed to promote the use of shopping areas, public venues, and social spaces, examples may include (but are not restricted to): design, layout and arrangement of shops, walkways, lifts and other facilities; provision of quiet areas; design of doors and openings; availability of dementia trained
  • Interventions relating to the social inclusion of people with dementia, (examples may include but are not restricted to): community education interventions; combating stigma and raising awareness, management of personal finances, interventions to promote participation in the community for people with
  • Evaluations of use of technology to enable access to, and promote engagement with, the community, examples may include (but are not restricted to): monitoring and sensor devices; commonplace household items modified to aid those with dementia (e.g. dementia clocks)
  • Evaluations of interventions that support people living with dementia to shape and influence their

Studies may evaluate multi-component interventions. Interventions to be evaluated must be outside the NHS and the primary outcome measure must be health-related. Researchers should identify underlying theory and should include a logic model to help explain underlying context, theory and mechanisms.

Researchers are asked to specify and justify study design and indicate how long-term impact will be assessed. Natural or quasi-experimental studies or trials may be appropriate, depending on context, as may be adopting a systems perspective. Research should consider the positive or negative impacts of the intervention, including inequitable outcomes. Proposals should ensure adequate public involvement in the research.

The impacts of public health interventions are often complex and wide-reaching. Evaluations should acknowledge this by adopting a broad perspective, taking account of costs and benefits to all sectors of society. A health economic evaluation to inform affordability and return on investment should be included where appropriate

For all proposals, applicants should clearly state the public health utility of the outcomes and the mechanisms by which they will inform future public health policy and practice.

Details about the potential pathway to impact and scalability of interventions, if shown to be effective, should be provided.

For the evaluation of time sensitive, policy driven, interventions applicants may wish to consider the fast-track work stream

*‘Effectiveness’ in this context relates not only to the size of the effect, but it also takes into account any harmful or negative side effects, including inequitable outcomes. 

Remit of Call

All proposals submitted under this call must fall within the remit of the Public Health Research programme. Please go to the PHR pages for details

General Notes

The NIHR Public Health Research programme evaluates public health interventions, providing new knowledge on the benefits, costs, acceptability and wider impacts of non-NHS interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health. The scope of the programme is multi-disciplinary and broad, covering a range of interventions that improve public health delivered in a non-NHS setting.

The NIHR Public Health Research programme is unable to fund intervention costs. The affordability of the intervention, and at least an indication of the public health stakeholder(s) willing to fund the intervention, should be referenced within the outline application. At the stage 2 application stage, statements of support confirming stakeholder commitments to funding will be required.

The NIHR Public Health Research programme is interested in and open to the joint funding of research projects with other organisations such as charities and the third sector. If you would like to explore the potential for joint funding, please contact us at with details of your proposal and the other funder prior to submission.

Notes to Applicants

The NIHR Public Health Research programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, Health and Care Research Wales, and HSC R&D, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland. Researchers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible to apply for funding under this programme.

Applicants are recommended to seek advice from suitable methodological support services, at an early stage in the development of their research idea and application. The NIHR Research Design Service can advise on appropriate NIHR programme choice, and developing and designing high quality research grant applications.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports health and social care research taking place in NHS and non-NHS settings. The CRN provides expert advice and support to plan, set up and deliver research efficiently.

Clinical Trials Units are regarded as an important component of many trial applications however, they are not essential for all types of studies to the PHR programme. The CTUs can advise and participate throughout the process from initial idea development through to project delivery and reporting. NIHR CTU Support Funding provides information on units receiving funding from the NIHR to collaborate on research applications to NIHR programmes and funded projects. In addition, the UKCRC CTU Network provides a searchable information resource on all registered units in the UK, and lists key interest areas and contact information.

Transparency agenda

In line with the government’s transparency agenda, any contract resulting from this tender may be published in its entirety to the general public. Further information on the transparency agenda is at: