To mark World Wellbeing Week, Henry Terefenko explains why the housing sector has a duty to create a dementia-friendly society
DEMENTIA touches us all.
The devastating impact the condition has on individuals, their families and friends is heart-breaking.
Alzheimer’s Research UK has warned that dementia is the greatest health challenge of our time.
There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to more than a million by 2025. This will soar to two million by 2051. By 2039, 240,000 people with dementia could be living alone.
The Alzheimer’s Society emphasises how important it is for people living with dementia to look after their health and wellbeing to help them live as full a life as possible.
At ForHousing, everything we do is for the good of tenants and communities. We improve lives by being the best landlord we can be and are passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of people.
As housing providers, we have a duty to do all we can to increase awareness and understanding of this life-altering condition and to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.
At the core of the Community Impact Strategy is our approach to working with partners and acting with care to invest in projects that give people a better quality of life by improving their health and helping them feel safer.
That’s why we believe it is vital to create a dementia-friendly society that supports the health and wellbeing of people living with the condition. To achieve this, we need to work together, collaboratively to create an impact in communities.
Influencing the next generation is key. That’s why during World Wellbeing Week we’ve been talking to primary school children to educate them about dementia.
The ‘Mr Alzheimer’s and Me’ workshops focus on understanding the impact dementia can have, and encourage young people to become ‘Dementia Friends’ by taking simple steps to be supportive and kind to anyone in their community living with the condition.
The sessions have been taking place at 15 schools with around 700 pupils across Salford and Knowsley for the past three years, and we are delighted to have held one of our first sessions at The Oaks Primary School in Ellesmere Port during Dementia Action Week in May.
We want to challenge the norm and deliver real change in communities. By educating children about dementia, we can do just that.
We want people to live longer, happier lives.
That’s why at our extra care schemes we run more than 70 activities a month that are tailored around the needs of tenants.
These include sessions focused on past happy memories, so tenants can share stories and life experiences from their past. This can be a really uplifting experience for tenants and their families.
We also run Music in Mind workshops with Manchester Camerata, one of the UK’s leading orchestras. Music is a powerful form of communication and the sessions provide people living with dementia a unique way to express themselves and bolster their wellbeing.
The project has seen positive results including improved mood, confidence, communication and memory among many of those taking part.
Our commitment to creating a dementia-friendly society runs right through the organisation. We train all our staff to be ‘Dementia Friends’.
We run Dementia Friends sessions to help increase understanding of the condition among tenants and carers too.
Our goal of building understanding of dementia and improving the wellbeing of people and families living with the condition will continue long beyond World Wellbeing Week.
Henry Terefenko is chief executive of ForHousing, part of the ForViva Group