'Dementia sufferers being failed by housing associations'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Health
'Morally wrong' to deny dementia patients support - report
Housing associations are failing to make provision for dementia sufferers with many claiming they do not need to implement a policy, a new survey has revealed.
Orbit Charitable Trust's research found that only a handful of small housing associations have a dementia strategy in place.
Orbit chairman David Hucker said it was "deeply worrying" that so few housing groups had anything in place to cope with the growing number of people with the condition.
The research, conducted in June and July, found that of the 88 respondents, only seven (8%) have a dementia strategy in place.
And 55 (63%) said they didn't even have a dementia strategy drawn up. Of those, 13 (24%) said they did not need one, the same number said a strategy was being developed, while 12 said they had not yet thought about it.
Most of the respondents said a separate dementia strategy was not considered necessary because of the size of their organisation. One said it dealt with cases on an individual basis, while another said dementia was dealt with as part of its older people’s strategy.
The survey, which follows Orbit's research published last year into how housing associations and older people’s organisations can work better together to deliver better services, also found that 48% do not have an older people’s strategy in place, while 28% do.
Of those without a strategy, a quarter said they were planning to introduce one, or were already developing one. However, 59% said they did not intend to put one in place.
David Hucker has now called on housing providers to do much more to meet the needs of their residents and stressed the importance of having distinct older people’s and dementia strategies because they addressed different needs.
“Dementia is a ticking time bomb and we have to do everything we can to make sure that housing providers have adequate provision in place to provide for the needs of people who are living with the condition,” he said.
About 670,000 people are currently living with dementia, about two-thirds of whom are cared for in the community, but the number of sufferers could double within 30 years.
Mr Hucker said: “Government estimates that dementia already costs society £19 billion a year – more than cancer, heart disease or stroke. The projected growth means that it is incumbent on social housing providers and housing associations to be prepared to support sufferers and their carers.”
Researcher Moyra Riseborough, one of the country’s leading social housing experts and the author of Orbit’s original research report, said no one could afford to ignore the findings of the report.
She said: “Social housing tenant populations are ageing so no one can afford to ignore the implications of ageing on their services and arrangements.
“We have to invest more in different approaches; one is to develop older people's capacity to help themselves and the communities they live, and the other is for staff and Board Members to adjust to the challenges of having an ageing population and learn to work in ways that best support older people.”
The survey was funded by Orbit Group, which manages some 36.000 homes, including schemes for older people.
Orbit chief executive, and current Chartered Institute of Housing president, Paul Tennant said: “We have known for some time that the demand for older people’s housing and care will only grow as our population ages, which makes the results of this survey surprising in the lack of preparedness they seem to highlight.
“ It is vital housing associations can deliver appropriate services to those with dementia, whether working in partnership or delivering those services in house, and a dementia strategy provides the robustness needed to do that.
“I would urge the sector to take this research to heart and think through how they are going to help current and future sufferers, their family and those working with them, to live as well as possible with dementia.”