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Why we need to open the conversation between housing and healthcare

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Chris Edwards, Event Director, Care & Dementia Show

According to the Alzheimer’s Society1, around a quarter of hospital beds are occupied by

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dementia patients, whilst at the same time 92% of people affected by dementia find hospital environments frightening. Sadly, families also suggest that the patient’s dementia often gets worse after being admitted. What’s more, Alistair Burns highlighted that around 70% of people in care homes have dementia and the secular increase in illness and dependency is well recognised2.

Therefore, the challenge is to open up the conversation about providing the right environment for people with dementia; helping

to keep them at home for longer and out of hospital where possible.  We know that the care construction sector is growing, recent research from Barber ABI suggests that contract award levels in the residential care sector have doubled compared to five years ago. Care and sheltered accommodation accounted for 13% of the value of contracts awarded last year. We have also seen real innovation in the science of designing for dementia patients, incorporating specialist lighting along with bespoke furniture and flooring.

Despite this, the conversation about dementia care can no longer remain solely between

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care homes and the NHS. One of the focal points on our agenda this year has been to address the housing challenge; connecting social care and housing. This has been the driver in developing an entire seminar theatre dedicated purely to dementia within both the care and housing sectors. It will address the issues of keeping people at home for longer and how care homes can prepare for a more needs-based audience in the future.

On the other side, carers who are working with people with dementia on a daily basis tell us they want to improve their provision and care. We are working hard to generate more understanding among carers of the challenges dementia patients face. One such

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way is the introduction of the Virtual Dementia Tour at this year’s event. The only one of its kind in the UK, this experience has been designed to help carers understand how difficult everyday tasks can be for people with dementia, and it’s a major opportunity for carers to gain a deeper understanding of how they can improve their care.

We hope to contribute to the long-term strategy on dementia care, where provision is first-class, and in which the housing and healthcare sectors will play an integral part in the conversation.

The Care & Dementia Show runs from 11 – 12 October at the NEC, Birmingham. Registration is free at http://www.caredementiashow.com

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