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Operationalising the Recovery College model with people living with dementia: a realist review

Handley, Melanie; Wheeler, Charlotte; Duddy, Claire; Wong, Geoff; Birt, Linda; Fox, Chris; Moniz-Cook, Esme; Hackmann, Corinna; Teague, Bonnie; West, Juniper


Melanie Handley

Charlotte Wheeler

Claire Duddy

Geoff Wong

Linda Birt

Chris Fox

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Professor Esme Moniz-Cook
Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology of Ageing and Dementia Care Research / Dementia Research Work Group Lead

Corinna Hackmann

Bonnie Teague

Juniper West


Post-diagnostic support is a significant factor in facilitating personal recovery following a diagnosis of dementia, but access is often inconsistent and insufficient. Recovery Colleges offer peer-led, co-produced courses that can support people to have meaningful lives and have been adapted for use in the context of dementia. A realist review was conducted to understand the application and sustainability of Recovery College dementia courses.
An iterative, five-step process combined literature published to 2023 with knowledge from stakeholders with lived and professional experience of dementia involved with Recovery College dementia courses (PROSPERO registration CRD42021293687).
Thirty-five documents and discussions with 19 stakeholders were used to build the initial programme theory comprising of 24 context-mechanism-outcome configurations. Reoccurring factors included: attending to aspects of co-production and course delivery to ensure they promoted inclusion and were not compromised by organisational pressures; how stigma impacted access to course opportunities; and embedding personal recovery principles throughout course development to be relevant for people living with dementia and those who support them.
People struggling to reconcile their future alongside dementia need practical and emotional support to access and benefit from Recovery College dementia courses, ways to achieve this will be explored through a realist evaluation.


Handley, M., Wheeler, C., Duddy, C., Wong, G., Birt, L., Fox, C., …West, J. (2024). Operationalising the Recovery College model with people living with dementia: a realist review. Aging and Mental Health,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 13, 2024
Online Publication Date Jun 8, 2024
Publication Date 2024
Deposit Date Jun 8, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jun 11, 2024
Journal Aging & Mental Health
Print ISSN 1360-7863
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Dementia; Recovery Colleges; Post-diagnostic support; Co-production; Realist review
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Copyright Statement
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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