‘It’s given us our mum back’ - medical trial helps Norwich woman to reduce agitation caused by dementia

Beryl Dockerill and daughter Julie Preston have praised the impact the trial has had on Beryl, who s

Beryl Dockerill and daughter Julie Preston have praised the impact the trial has had on Beryl, who showed signs of agitation caused by her dementia. Picture: NIHR - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk family says a transformative medical trial looking into reducing agitation in dementia has 'given them their mum back'.

Beryl Dockerill, 88, has been hailed a pioneer for her part into research reducing the symptoms of agitation.

The Norwich-born mother of five was diagnosed with dementia in 2012 but had experienced anxiety causing her to hit and kick out.

The trial was suggested by Claire Rischmiller, a research nurse from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), who told them about a medication being tested to see if it can help people with dementia who are experiencing agitation.

Mrs Dockerill's daughter Julie Preston said: "We feel like we've been thrown a lifeline. Mum's life has been transformed and other people's lives can be transformed.

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"Mum has never been the sort of person to get aggravated and, yet, here was this really gentle woman, hitting people, kicking the door, behaviour that you would never have seen before from her. It was so distressing, seeing mum the way that she was, and we just couldn't do anything to help her."

"It's given us our mum back."

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The trial is led nationally by the University of Sussex, with local leadership from Professor Chris Fox at the University of East Anglia in conjunction with the research team at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Mrs Preston praised staff at the Shiels Court in Brundall where Mrs Dockerill is a resident for suggesting the clinical trial.

The trial tests Mirtazapine, a commonly used anti-depressant, to see if it could also help people with dementia. As part of the test participants do not know if they are receiving the drug or a placebo.

Mrs Dockerill said she noticed the difference, adding: "I didn't know what the matter was with me, but thank god it's over."

The family hope more people will sign up to the trial.

Mrs Preston said: "I would recommend anyone to give it a go. We owe it to all the people in Mum's condition and all the people coming along in Mum's position. We really, really must do this. I really think this could help people stay at home."

Helen Macdonald, chief operating officer for the NIHR's clinical research network for the Eastern region, said, "Although researchers are working tirelessly to find cures for conditions such as dementia, we also need to find ways to improve the quality of life experienced by people like Beryl.

"Crucially, it's only with the involvement of Beryl, Julie and her carers, and those like them that we can ever hope to find the evidence to support these care pathways and for that we are incredibly grateful."

For more information on research happening near you visit the NIHR's Be Part of Research website at www.bepartofresearch.uk.

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