Research from the leading dementia charity* has previously found that 85 per cent of people want to stay living at home for as long as possible when diagnosed with dementia, but that a third of the general public would not know where to find information about how to make their home and living environment suitable.
Alzheimer’s Society is launching the Dementia-friendly housing charter today (Friday 24 March) at The Housing Learning and Improvement Network Conference at the Kia Oval in London, to help housing professionals better understand dementia and how housing, its design and supporting services can help improve and maintain the wellbeing of people affected.
The charter, developed in partnership with Housing & Care 21, is the latest innovation from Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Communities programme, which aims to ensure people affected by dementia feel understood and included in all aspects of community life.
It aims to enable all professionals working in the housing sector, from planners, architects and developers to landlords, housing managers and handypersons, to embed best practice to support people living with dementia in their homes, minimise risk and enhance their wellbeing.
Simple additions and adaptations that can be made to help people with dementia include wet rooms, sensory lights, different coloured front doors, open plan living and plug sockets at eye level.
Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive, said: ‘Dementia is one of the greatest challenges we face in society today, and one that all areas of the housing sector must work together in uniting against.
‘The Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020 states that more people with dementia should to live longer in their own homes when it is in their interests to do so, with a greater focus on independent living.
‘This will only be achieved with greater support in people’s own homes from trained professionals and by improving the homes that people live in to ensure they are adaptable and flexible as circumstances and needs change.
‘When someone is no longer able to remain in their own home we need to ensure housing providers that support them are knowledgeable and have the processes in place to enable each individual to live the life they want to and receive the best possible support.’
Bruce Moore, Chief Executive of Housing & Care 21, added: ‘Dementia poses significant challenges for the housing sector, particularly those who provide for older people.
‘This Dementia-friendly housing charter presents a great opportunity for all those involved in housing to play their part in planning, developing and maintaining housing which helps promote the wellbeing of people affected by dementia and their carers.
‘Awareness and understanding of dementia is increasing all the time, which means that it is particularly important that our ability to provide housing and support that best meets the needs of people living with the condition is also improved. This charter will be a valuable tool to all those who want to help achieve this and contribute towards a dementia friendly society.’
Jeremy Porteus, Managing Director of the Housing LIN, said: “People working in the housing sector regularly see the impact dementia has on those living with the condition and their families.
‘Some housing providers have built excellent accommodation which lessen that impact and allow people with dementia to live safely and comfortably in their preferred home for as long as possible.
‘By highlighting the challenges of living with dementia, improving understanding of the condition and setting out the housing options available, the charter will help housing professionals and the organisations they work for make dementia-friendly housing a reality for many more people. That will improve the quality of life of many people with dementia and provide reassurance to those who love and care for them.’
The charter was developed in association with a wide range of stakeholders, including Pozzoni Architecture, Tunstall Healthcare, Keepmoat, the Association for Dementia Studies and the Housing and Dementia Research Consortium, Care and Repair England, Royal Town Planning Institute and Life Story Network CIC.