The DemECH project, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research School for Social Care Research, is exploring how Extra Care Housing can support people to live well with dementia. Over a fifth of those living in Extra Care Housing have dementia, a number that is likely to increase as the prevalence of dementia continues to increase and people are being diagnosed at a younger age.
Previous studies have highlighted some key features of Extra Care Housing that can help people with dementia including dementia friendly design, having flexible care available, good use of technology, and lots of opportunities for social activities. However, everyone has a different experience of dementia and little is known about what model of extra care housing works for whom.
A large part of this year has been spent travelling across England to visit a range of different Extra Care Housing Schemes to meet with people who can tell us what it is like to live and work in these places. The schemes were purposively selected to represent a range of locations (from urban metropolitan city, to more rural areas), range of sizes (from 40 flats to over 250 flats), and also included different models of provision for people living with dementia. This included schemes which are described as integrated, where people living with dementia live alongside people who don’t have dementia, specialist schemes that are specifically for people living with dementia and schemes that have a separated area within a larger scheme that provides more specialist support for people living with dementia.
We have carried out interviews with 100 different people, including 55 people living with dementia and family carers. This means we have met people from all walks of life, with very different experiences, histories, and perspectives on how they came to live in Extra Care Housing, and what the day-to-day benefits and challenges are.
A particular high point was an opportunity to meet Bill and Christine, two key members of our Advisory Group, who both live in a specialist Extra Care Housing for people living with dementia. Bill and Christine have played an important role in helping us to shape the project, tailor the language and focus of our questions, and synthesise findings into meaningful findings. However, so far, meetings have always been online. The opportunity to meet face-to-face over a cup of tea cannot be underestimated and it was a joy to be able to make this happen.
Next up is a series of focus groups intended to shape our findings into recommendations for practice, which in turn, will be published in several ‘Key Insight’ booklets aimed at different stakeholders involved in Extra Care Housing provision. With just a few months of the project left to go, keep an eye out for publications and resources sharing our findings from this important project.
This study/project is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) School for Social Care Research 102645/ER/UWTAP180. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.
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