The money will be used to improve the homes, independence and confidence of people living with dementia, ensuring that they receive equipment and adaptations to assist them to continue to live independently within their own homes for as long as possible. The three year funding has been awarded to Care and Repair to boost three pilot projects in Aberdeen, Angus, and Lochaber, Skye & Lochalsh. These areas were chosen to reflect the different mix of city, urban, rural and remote demographics. Traditionally, older people receive funding for support and adaptations at home when they have a physical need or a disability. Care and Repair want to extend this crucial support to people with dementia, who may not always qualify for these funded adaptations because the works required are not seen as ‘typical’ or ‘traditional’.For people living with dementia, the need for equipment or adaptations can arise from a change in how they perceive their surroundings as a symptom of dementia – a flat path may appear slanted or a patterned carpet could cause dizziness and disorientation.
Adaptations can range from fitting handrails, improving lighting, changing floor coverings, removal or repositioning of mirrors, mounting signage on doors to give clearer direction and highlighting light switches and electrical sockets. Small changes to the home environment like these have been shown to reduce falls, accidents and confusion. This can lead to an increase in confidence and independence, and even better physical health. Early intervention could also be less costly in the long run. Many of the specific changes needed are preventative in nature and are enabling or re-enabling, and while these physical changes in the home need not be dramatic, often the improvements in well-being and confidence for a person with dementia can be significant.
The funding has come from the Life Changes Trust, an independent charity set up with a Big Lottery Fund endowment of £50 million to improve the lives of two key groups in Scotland: people affected by dementia and care experienced young people.
Robert Thomson, National Director of Care and Repair said,
‘Care and Repair has a proven record over more than 20 years of assisting older and disabled people to remain in their own home and in their own communities. We are delighted that the Life Changes Trust has awarded this funding to three experienced Care and Repair areas to help support people living with dementia to continue to live in the home that they know and recognise. Assisting people to live at home rather than move into care or alternative housing enables people to retain neighbours who often give unpaid support and has also been proven to be more cost effective. For people living with dementia the need to remain in a known environment is not just a cost saving - it is beneficial to stop them falling, becoming more confused and keeping them as independent as possible.
The different enablement and adaptation works used and learning from this project will be cascaded throughout Scotland and hopefully influence future enablement works for all people living with dementia to have the choice to remain at home for as long as they can do so.’
Anna Buchanan, Director of the Life Changes Trust dementia programme said: “We are so pleased to award this funding to support Care and Repair Scotland. We all know how important it to so have somewhere to call home. Many older people with dementia have lived in the same place for numerous years and their homes provide reassurance, a safe space, and of course precious memories. Often, small and early interventions can make the biggest differences - not just to the safety and suitability of a home, but to the confidence and independence of a person living with dementia, and by extension to those who care for them. The longer a person with dementia can choose to live well and safely at home, the better quality of life they will have.’