A new project is up and running!

Last week Senior Research Fellow Teresa Atkinson and Research Assistant Jen Bray got to go on a road trip to East Sussex to carry out the first stage of data collection on a new research project. They headed down to a new Abbeyfield housing scheme which is a care-enabled scheme – different to our previous experiences of extra care housing – that fits with Abbeyfield’s goals for combatting loneliness and social isolation. The scheme has developed a Community Link Worker role with the aim of enabling tenants who may be at risk of social isolation to enjoy an enriched lifestyle, reduce the impact of loneliness, and improve wellbeing.

Artist's impression of the new scheme, showing a large 3-storey building surrounded by trees, shrubs and blue skies
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Different country, similar challenges

This week we hear from Teresa Atkinson about a recent work trip to Madrid (we’re not jealous, honestly!)…

A trip to sunny Madrid in the heart of an English winter is always an attractive proposition, especially when it is to share learning and understanding around long-term care with other countries. The Association for Dementia Studies was privileged to be invited to the Fundacion Ramon Areces in Madrid to their conference discussing Long-Term Care: International Trends and Challenges in Spain. 

The conference was founded on the 2021 Report of the José María Martín Patino Chair, which identified the need for urgent cultural change in the long-term care model of care in Spain, putting people at the heart of its reformulation. Speakers from around the world took to the stage to share their ideas. The first session focused on international experiences of service provision to support future care planning and strategic development. David Grabowski, a Professor of Health Care Policy, from Harvard Medical School, kicked off the session talking about innovations in long-term care in the USA, followed by Adelina Comas, Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the London School of Economics, who focused on the future of long-term care in the post-Covid era. The session wrapped up with a discussion on the challenges of autonomy and dependency care in Spain by Gregorio Rodríguez Cabrero, Professor of Sociology from the University of Alcalá de Henares.

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DemECH launch at the House of Lords

We hand over to Teresa Atkinson for this week’s blog to find out about something rather exciting that happened last week…

Well, as they say, all good things come to an end…or do they?

Last week saw the launch of the findings from our recently completed project exploring the benefits and challenges of Extra Care Housing (ECH) for people living with dementia. What a great journey this has been, speaking to care staff, commissioners, managers and, most importantly, people living with dementia about their experiences of living in different models of ECH.

ECH is becoming an ever more attractive housing option as people age. However, there is still much that is misunderstood about what extra care housing can do to support people living with dementia. Our project found that people with dementia can live well in ECH but this is very much based on the individual being in the right place, at the right time and with the right level of support. Understanding the factors that impact on this is of paramount importance if we want to ensure people can live a good life in ECH.

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An update from the DemECH project

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.

The DemECH logo, which is a purple outline of a house with the word DemECH underneath, all within a circle

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.

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An update from DemECH

Four months into the DemECH project and our team have been busy navigating their way through various project milestones. This week’s blog follows the team through the first period of their NIHR-funded project…

What is DemECH?

DemECH is a project looking at the experiences of living with dementia in Extra Care Housing (ECH). ECH is a model of housing with care for older people that promotes independent living with the option to take up flexible support as required. Living in ECH involves living in your own self-contained flat or apartment within a larger complex that usually contains a range of shared facilities, such as a shop, café, garden and hairdresser. Care can be provided onsite and can respond flexibly to changing levels of care and support needs.

Circular DemECH logo featuring a stylised image of a house
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HDRC Webinar, 21st September 2021

the HDRC logo

Thanks to Dr Julie Barrett, Research Coordinator for the Housing and Dementia Research Consortium (HDRC) for this week’s blog.

What does “build back better” mean for people living with dementia in extra care and retirement housing in the UK?

three images showing older people in an extra care setting

In its second webinar of 2021 the HDRC and guest presenters explored how extra care and retirement housing needs to change and prepare for the future with respect to residents living with dementia, bearing in mind Covid-19 is not going away and will not be the last pandemic we experience.

The 2021 All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report ‘Housing for people with dementia – are we ready?’ states:

“The restrictions imposed in response to Covid-19 have highlighted existing challenges to housing providers. Many people affected by dementia have reported deterioration of their condition, but also an increased reticence to move to a care or nursing home. Creative solutions have been adopted by housing providers, often as a result of the property services, housing management and care teams working together. These examples of best practice need to be shared across the sectors.”

According to the World Economic Forum, Covid-19 is not an aberration. It is in fact part of a pattern of increasingly frequent epidemics, thus it is vital that we share good practice now, during the current epidemic, in order to reduce future risk.

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Bridging the Gap: Supporting People Living With Dementia Beyond Loneliness

This week’s blog post is an HDRC ‘voice of the members’ blog written by Michael Roberts, Engaged Lives Project Officer at the ExtraCare Charitable Trust. The organisation is a provider of Extra Care Housing Schemes and Retirement Villages and is a member of the HDRC steering group.

Dementia and Loneliness – What’s the link?

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Supporting People Living with Dementia in Extra Care Housing

We have just started a really exciting new project! So what’s it all about? Let’s hear from the project team and find out.

The Project

We are interested in finding out more about how the different models of Extra Care Housing support people living with dementia.

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