Why living well with dementia starts at home

Guinness Care News Article - 13 April 2018
Why living well with dementia starts at home

The Guinness Partnership’s Wendy Wells explains why housing providers can lead the way for people to live well with dementia.

Housing is not always seen as a priority when supporting people following a diagnosis of dementia. However, it’s so important we enable people to live well with the condition, and where better to start than at home?

At the Guinness Partnership we understand the growing impact that dementia is having on our customers and their families. That’s why in 2015 we worked with Oxford Brooks University to commission our ‘becoming a dementia friendly organisation’ report.

It’s our vision to provide great homes that improve lives and open up new possibilities for our customers. People can live well with dementia and we have a unique opportunity to make this happen.

Housing and Dementia

Following the report we ran a year-long pilot project looking at how to make our homes and services meet our objectives. This was so successful that we extended it for a second year to trial further initiatives in the Greater Manchester and Cheshire area.

The Housing and Dementia project works closely with our customers with dementia to ensure our services meet their changing needs. This means both making sure people are receiving the services they need, and changing the way we deliver those services.

Shortly after the project started, I began working with the Dementia and Housing Working Group. As well as many other projects, they were working with Alzheimer’s Society on developing a dementia friendly housing charter.

Now published, the charter gives all housing providers the opportunity to measure their progress in becoming dementia friendly. This has given me a further set of suggestions and outcomes to see how The Guinness Partnership is doing.

Our commitments

As part of our communications plan, we’ll be releasing a statement of commitment from the charter each month. This will help us to share what we are doing, or have already done, to meet it.

Our first commitment statement focused on our processes and commitment to applicability. This covered how we now record our customers with dementia on our housing system, as well as our training, awareness raising and policies.

July’s statement focuses on the design of our housing for older people. We’ve trialled using artwork in one of our extra care schemes, introduced more assistive technology and made subtle changes in colour and lighting to improve wayfinding. We’ve also created a handy new guide for front line teams to audit housing blocks and schemes. We hope this helps them identify the issues and understand what more we could do to use best practice dementia design principles.

I hope that sharing these commitments will help other housing organisations to do the same. I’m keen to hear ideas from other providers so we can share good practice and unite together against dementia.

This article first appeared on the Alzheimer’s Society website on 25 July 2017.