Housing ‘has critical role’ in addressing dementia as new Scottish cases forecast to rise by 17%
As the number of individuals diagnosed with dementia is predicted to rise to 19,473 every year by 2020, a new report has concluded that the housing sector has a critical role to play in meeting the needs of people living with the condition.
Commissioned by CIH Scotland to give a better understanding of the contribution that housing staff and services can make to those living with dementia, the research findings have been unveiled as the Scottish Government predicts that the number of newly diagnosed cases of dementia will increase from 16,172 in 2014 to 19,473 in 2020 – a rise of 17%.
Entitled ‘Dementia Pathways – Housing’s Role’, the study was carried out by housing consultancy Arneil Johnston as the second phase of CIH Scotland’s housing and dementia programme. It includes an extensive survey which found that, despite existing gaps in the knowledge and skills required, an overwhelming majority of housing professionals felt that they have an important role to play in supporting people with dementia.
A total of 385 housing professionals took part in the survey as part of the study. 78% of respondents agreed that housing workers have an important role to play in relation to people with dementia, while 81% thought they had a role in recognising changes in normal patterns of behaviour and signposting to services that improve wellbeing. Only 3% didn’t think that housing has a key role to play in relation to people with dementia.
The study identifies an important role for housing staff and services at four key stages of an individual’s dementia journey.
- Assisting and supporting early diagnosis;
- Early assessment of the suitability of the home of someone living with dementia;
- Enabling a person with dementia to remain at or return home quickly; and
- Ensuring holistic consideration of assistance and support as dementia progresses.
‘Dementia Pathways – Housing’s Role’ concludes by setting out a series of key recommendations for stakeholders including the Scottish Government, local authorities, housing providers, health and social care partnerships and CIH Scotland itself. The aim of these recommendations is to promote and develop the role of housing in dementia care and to ensure that the housing profession is equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to fulfil that role.
Key recommendations include:
- Integrating dementia-friendly housing design principles into housing investment programmes and asset management strategies;
- Ensuring timely provision of adaptations, repairs and support to maintain independent living;
- Ensuring dementia awareness, training and skills development is prioritised across every aspect of housing services;
- Developing a process and protocol for sharing information about people with dementia across public services and the third and voluntary sectors involved in dementia care;
- Identifying housing interventions for people living with dementia who are homeowners or private renters, including adaptations, repairs and support to maintain independent living.
Commenting on the release of the research findings, CIH Scotland deputy director, Marian Reid, said: “As an organisation, CIH Scotland is committed to working with our members and other stakeholders to ensure the housing sector is properly equipped to be able to meet the societal challenges of an ageing population.
“Dementia Pathways – Housing’s Role is a significant piece of research that highlights the critical role of housing professionals in meeting the needs of those living with dementia. At a time when the number of people diagnosed with dementia continues to grow year-on-year, it shows that most housing professionals also recognise the important role they have to play in meeting the needs of people living with dementia. Crucially, the findings include a series of practical recommendations that should help ensure the housing sector has the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to fulfil that role properly in the future.”