For Dementia Awareness Week from 20-26 May this year, the Housing LIN has gathered examples of where extra care schemes or other housing related community services have supported people with dementia to develop meaningful relationships to prevent unwanted social isolation or reduce loneliness.
The examples range from informal arrangements supported by staff or other residents as well as more formal service provision. Today’s example of best practice comes from a partnership of Silva Homes, Bracknell Forest Council and Bracknell Forest Dementia Action Alliance.
Working together to reduce social isolation for people with dementia and their carers
Silva Homes (formerly Bracknell Forest Homes) is a not-for-profit charitable housing association that owns and manages 6,200 tenanted properties and 1,200 leasehold properties in Berkshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, including eight retirement living schemes. In 2017 Silva Homes became members of Bracknell Forest Dementia Action Alliance (DAA). Bracknell Forest DAA has members from health, social care, voluntary and private sector. One action from the DAA is to work together to reduce social isolation for people with dementia and their carers.
Silva Homes’ dementia friendly Health and Wellbeing Officers organise regular activities in their retirement living schemes for physical, mental and social stimulation. Activities for residents include, bingo, coffee mornings, knitting groups, painting lessons, quiz afternoons, themed parties, film afternoons, daytrips, BBQs and much more. Silva Homes Community investment also offer activities to anyone over 55 years old in Bracknell Forest. These activities include arts and crafts, IT tuition and exercise classes for all abilities e.g. seated Zumba, exercises to 50s music, seated futsal and tai chi. Singing sessions are held weekly and attendees include local dementia groups. Before and after activities, there is always time for social interaction.
Community Investment have also organised intergenerational activities. These have included playing board games which provided learning and enjoyment to both the school children and older people. Another activity involved a professional story teller gathering childhood memories/stories from attendees then subsequently worked with local school children to compose songs that were performed to an audience.
Over the past two years 100% of 223 people surveyed reported that these activities had a positive impact on their lives. Quotes include ‘it’s something I look forward to every week, the sessions are fun and I like learning new songs’ and ‘loved the entertainment side, game and cake it was much more then what I expected’. To raise awareness of activities they are promoted on posters and scheme managers will encourage people to attend. They are advertised in Silva Homes’ customer newsletter, online and through word of mouth. The DAA members also promote the activities programme, and it is promoted in the Dementia Adviser Newsletter which is sent to people with dementia and their carers via post or email, as well as to other health and social care practitioners. These activities have proven to be extremely successful in reducing loneliness and improve wellbeing for older people, including people with dementia, and their carers.
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Note: The views expressed in this feature have been provided by the featured organisations and are not necessarily those of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network.
If you have any examples from your own organisation that you would like to share please send details to Katey Twyford and Wendy Wells, Housing and Dementia co-leads for the Housing LIN, firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be developing a compendium of best practice examples to go on the Housing LIN website.