New housing sector practice guide launched to support people with dementia

dependent-housing-dementiaA new practice guide has been launched to help housing practitioners offer suitable support to people affected by dementia.

The guide is one of the outputs from a larger research study on housing’s role in dementia carried out for CIH Scotland by housing consultancy Arneil Johnston. It provides recommendations covering four separate pathways, each representing one of four key stages in a typical dementia journey, namely:

  • 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.
  • For each pathway, the guide considers the role of housing within that stage, provides examples of emerging practice from the sector and a checklist of what housing practitioners should know and do, before concluding with a series of practical recommendations for how housing practitioners in Scotland can make a real difference to people affected by dementia, their families and carers.

    The recommendations include:

    • accepting that the scale of dementia as a major societal challenge requires a higher level of strategic and frontline priority from housing organisations;
    • understanding the nature and extent of the housing role in dementia care and developing the knowledge and skills required to successfully fulfil this role;
    • using a housing options approach to facilitate independent living;
    • developing effective partnership working arrangements with colleagues across housing services and other organisations to maximise the quality of outcomes; and
    • promoting housing’s wider role in enabling independence beyond the physical and home environments to partner organisations.
    • The key findings from the research were previously released at CIH Scotland’s annual conference in March 2017andunderlined the critical role the housing sector has to play in meeting the needs of people living with dementia at a time when the number of newly diagnosed cases is expected to increase by 17% from 16,172 in 2014 to 19,473 in 2020.

      Kevin Stewart MSP, minister for local government and housing, said: “Dementia remains one of our foremost health and social care challenges. Scotland’s third National Dementia Strategy was published earlier this year to ensure people with dementia get the support they need, including better services, assistance and housing. Ensuring those who work in housing are equipped to recognise and support those diagnosed with dementia is a positive step to ensuring people can continue to live independently within their own communities.”

      Commenting on the release of the new practice guide, CIH Scotland chair, Amanda Britain, added: “This practice guide is important for everyone working with people living with dementia. Where we live and call home matters hugely to our health and wellbeing. The activities of housing organisations influence people’s everyday lives and the places they live. As housing practitioners, we therefore have a responsibility to learn from this practice guide and challenge and question whether existing policies and procedures, and staff awareness and skills are as good as they can be.

      “The guide should not only improve housing sector practice but can also help to promote a more integrated and coordinated approach to care planning and delivery in partnership with Scotland’s health and social care sectors. By implementing its recommendations, I hope that we can help more people with dementia live independently and well at home.”

      Further information about the practice guide: “Dementia Pathways – Housing’s Role” can be found here.

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