Housing and related services, together with other interventions, can improve the quality of someone with dementia’s life and reduce their need for care. Through a combination of changing behaviour, home adaptation and support, a person can achieve a higher quality of life in the time available to them. This can also reduce the need for more costly institutional forms of care. In the report, Dementia : Finding Housing Solutions published today by the National Housing Federation, June Andrews and I have selected a number of case studies that provide a snapshot of the types of services and integrated care packages that housing associations and home improvement agencies can offer.
Good housing and related services have a really important role to play in supporting people to stay independent. Housing services can help by delaying more intensive forms of care to preventing admission and readmission to hospital. Housing associations and home improvement agencies can:
- reduce or delay demand for health and social care services
- improve the rate of diagnosis of dementia
- deliver improved health and social care outcomes at a lower cost
Specialist housing can ensure a person’s home is ‘care ready’, responding flexibly to their changing needs. Investment in specialist housing for vulnerable and older people, where care and support are available on-site, results in a net cost benefit to the public purse of £639m a year. For people with dementia, home adaptations and home support services can bridge the gaps between an admission to hospital, reablement and returning to living independently at home. A study of the benefits of support services estimated that a £1.6bn annual investment in housing-related support services generate annual cost savings of £3.41bn to the public purse.
There remains a clear and growing need for services which intervene shortly after diagnosis, and which focus specifically on helping someone continue to live independently in their own home. Intervening early can significantly improve people’s experience of living with dementia. As the report highlights, there are already plenty of models of progressive interventions which can be drawn upon. Such services can take the pressure off carers and residential care as well as prevent hospital admissions and extended hospital stays and – more importantly – improve someone’s quality of life.
Dementia : Finding Housing Solutions by Professor June Andrews and Peter Molyneux is published by the National Housing Federation on 1st May.
It can be downloaded at http://www.housing.org.uk/publications/browse/dementia-finding-housing-solutions