Dementia care is woefully inadequate. We need to move away from campaigns like Dementia Friends and focus on helping people with dementia to live well.
The Dementia Society published a blog the other day that had us standing on our chairs applauding and whooping in agreement.
The blog’s author, Dr Shibley Rahman, said what we’ve been thinking. It’s time for the Dementia Friends initiative to give way for something more impressive.
It’s been a good campaign to raise awareness of dementia, and possibly highlighting the discrimination experienced by people living with dementia, but that’s where its impact stops.
The support, care and housing available for people living with dementia are still woefully inadequate.
To give you an example, we’re currently researching the provision of dementia care within the North-West and discovered older people living with dementia who are deemed to have ‘challenging behaviours’ or ‘complex needs’ are being shipped out of a particular borough.
Using national figures from the Alzheimer’s Society, we estimate there is a gap of more than 1,000 residential care and nursing care beds for people living with dementia in this one borough. Consequently, there is nowhere for people to go except out of the borough, away from their family and friends.
We know this is happening across the country.
We also know that much of the current provision is institutionalised. Even if we had those additional 1,000 beds within residential and nursing care homes, who would want to spend their remaining days there? And who would want their loved ones to live there?
Because that’s the ultimate question. If you were diagnosed with dementia, how would you like to live?
I’m guessing you would like to be supported in maintaining your lifestyle, doing the things you love but adapting as the disease progresses. I’m also guessing you wouldn’t like to live in an environment that resembles a hospital and locks you in to keep you safe.
Our friend, David Hughes from architectural firm Pozzoni, has said design for people living with dementia has stagnated.
We agree so we’ve taken the bull by the horns and have designed a new way of living for people with dementia.
Fitting with the core Evermore philosophy of eradicating institutionalisation, we’re building places where people can live a great life. We are creating places where people with dementia can live well to their full potential, supported by people who are kind with love in their heart, and in an environment that is easy to navigate plus nurtures the person’s abilities.
It sounds soft but putting love at the centre of everything that we do ensures we’re providing not just a house, but a home with heart that provides nourishment for body and soul.
Admittedly we’re still in the development phase and it’s been a long journey. We’ve done this without funds from the NHS, local authorities or investors. Instead, we’ve sunk our hard-earned cash – including the proceeds of my house sale – into the business to get it off the ground.
We’ve done this because it’s important. Dementia care is too important to be left in the realms of policy documents and political posturing.
Evermore Founder & Director of Market Innovation
Follow Sara on Twitter @SaraMcKeeFRSA