Dementia friendly: from home to high street

Approximately 20,000 people live with dementia in Northern Ireland and with an ageing population; the figure is set to rise. Radius Housing is getting ready to meet the demands this will create on housing and communities.

Radius Housing’s Care and Support team have dementia expertise, providing specialist day care, housing with care, and award-winning accommodation such as Hemsworth Court. However, it was their corporate charity partnership with Alzheimer’s Society, from 2015 – 2017, which spurred the organisation to become Dementia Friendly, extending dementia awareness across the organisation and the wider community.

Deirdre Carr, Care Services Manager, says: “Our Chief Executive, John McLean, championed the Dementia Friendly training for our board, the first in Northern Ireland, illustrating top level support across the organisation. Further training sessions were scheduled for staff at all levels including customer facing teams and teams who do not directly link with our customers. Our thinking was that although they may not deal directly with customers, they would certainly encounter people living with dementia outside the workplace, and as such, would have knowledge to make a positive difference to someone with the disease.”

She adds: “In addition, all our TeleCare Support Advisors, who support some 30,000 customers via our pendant alarm service via telephone, undertook dementia friendly training with an added element which would better equip them for responding to clients who are living with dementia. In our Sevenoaks Day Centre, two staff completed Dementia Champion Awards, one of which was awarded the Champion of Dementia Champions.”

The next stage of their roll-out was to host dementia friendly training for tenants and their families in Radius sheltered and housing with care schemes and into communities where the organisation worked.

Carr continues: “Our vision has been to make whole communities dementia friendly. Since November 2016, following on from work on the Shankill Road, we have been working to develop Holywood into a Dementia Friendly Community.

“We work closely with the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia NI, and local businesses keen to develop Holywood into a community in which people living with dementia and their carers feel comfortable and supported.

“With the advice and support of people living with dementia, this project has introduced Memory Cafés twice monthly in Holywood Library; a carer support group who meet in the Coffee Yard; free dementia friendly training for everyone in the community including local businesses, churches and schools; and a full calendar of activities including information sessions, day trips and a monthly newsletter.

“We are currently working with local groups to help develop Dementia Friendly Peninsula starting in Kircubbin and have been supporting Ards and North Down District Council to become the first dementia friendly council in Northern Ireland. The project has had a ripple effect where the Radius team have been approached by neighbouring communities for advice on how they can develop and learn from our experiences.”

The aim of Dementia Friendly Communities is to challenge the stigma surrounding dementia and promote more understanding of dementia in all its guises – reminding people that dementia does not discriminate and can affect someone no matter what age, gender or race.

For further information contact: Deirdre.carr@radiushousing.org or visit facebook.com/Dementia FriendlyHolywood.

Radius Housing
38 – 52 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 6AA

T: 03300 123 0888

E: info@radiushousing.org

W: radiushousing.org

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