A major forum into housing and dementia, co-chaired by a University of Stirling academic, has published a series of recommendations on living well with the condition.
Living well at home: Housing and Dementia in Scotland, is the report of the National Housing and Dementia Forum, which was established by the Scottish Government in 2021.
The report was launched by Dr Vikki McCall, Ashley Campbell co-chair of the Forum and Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, during a visit to Varis Court, a housing with care development in Forres managed by Hanover Scotland and featured as a case study in the report.
The report sets out recommendations for how the Scottish Government and partner organisations can better support people to live well with dementia. It highlights the need for tenure blind services ensuring people can access help when they need it, regardless of their housing tenure. The report also advocates the importance of initiating conversations about housing much earlier, tackling the stigma around aging and ensuring housing and health & social care partners work closely to guarantee the best outcomes for people living with dementia, their families, and carers.
There are currently approximately 90,000 people living in Scotland with dementia, with this number expected to increase significantly as the population continues to age. Recognising the importance of supporting people with dementia to remain well at home for as long as possible, the Scottish Government established the National Housing and Dementia Forum in 2021.
The Forum, independently co-chaired by Ashley Campbell, policy and practice manager at Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland (CIH Scotland) and Lesley Palmer, chief architect of the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling, gathered evidence from a wide range of experts and people with lived experience of dementia.
The Forum considered four key themes through online evidence sessions and one to one meetings: housing options and adaptations; access to advice and information; support for people living with dementia; and moving home in later life.
Dr Vikki McCall attended the launch and spoke on behalf of her colleague Lesley Palmer, chief architect of the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling and co-chair of the Forum. Dr. McCall commented:
“The University of Stirling is honoured to have been able to support the research and writing of this report. Our country’s housing provision, design, and tenure play an integral role in supporting people living with dementia, their care partners, and families to maintain their lives (physically, socially, and economically) and this was reinforced in the evidence we collected over the past year, during the research and writing of this report. To enable people with dementia to remain with their families, in their communities, and at home, we must invest in housing that supports their needs. This report recognises this and sets out relevant and realistic recommendations, for Scotland to lead on housing as a commitment within post-diagnostic support.”
Ashley Campbell, policy and practice manager at CIH Scotland and Forum co-chair, added:
“The housing sector has a key role to play in supporting people to live well with dementia, ensuring the best outcomes requires partnership working across housing and the built environment, health and social care, and the third sector. We hope this report acts as a catalyst for further conversations and partnership working on how we can all make a positive difference for people living with dementia.
“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and others to ensure that the Forum’s recommendations are reflected in national policy and local services.”
On reviewing the report Kevin Stewart MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care said:
“The Scottish Government wants more people living with dementia to be able to live well at home for as long as possible. I am very grateful to all members of the National Housing and Dementia Forum for all the work they have put into developing this report. Housing has a huge role to play in how we support people living with dementia to feel safe and able to play an active role in their local communities as their needs change.
“This report comes at a good time as the Scottish Government starts work to develop a new dementia strategy for Scotland. Learning from the recommendations in this report and great practice in places like Varis Court is something I am keen for the new strategy to embrace. I look forward to working together with people with lived experience of dementia and other partners to deliver a strategy that keeps Scotland at the forefront of Dementia Policy internationally”
Angela Currie, Chief Executive of Hanover Scotland said:
“Hanover are delighted to have been part of this important work and we welcome the recommendations. We have our own Dementia Strategy and are working towards being able to fully support those with dementia both now and in the future. It is clear that more needs to be done in Scotland to help those on their dementia journey. Our Varis Court development in Forres is an exemplar of an integrated approach, but we need even more of these specialist services, particularly in the social rented sector if we are to meet the needs of the expanding population of older people.”
The full report can be downloaded from CIH Scotland.