Housing priorities of people with dementia: security, continuity and support

Dementia Housing for older people Housing Mental health Australia
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This project involved secondary analysis of ABS and AIHW data, interviews with housing and community care service provider stakeholders in two sites (South Australia and Tasmania) and interviews with people with dementia and their carers about their housing.

Housing security is an important goal for people with dementia, since familiarity of surroundings and continuity help maintain quality of life and reduce anxiety and stress. Home owners had some advantages over renters: renters often faced difficulties in making home while owners could draw down on their housing wealth to obtain obtaining additional care or seek alternative housing options. Those in marginal housing (caravan parks and boarding houses) often had problematic arrangements for managing personal care and accessing home based support.

Timely modification to respond to mobility and cognitive issues of people with dementia was also important since current home design is often focused on aesthetics over function.

There was widespread concern that people with dementia receive adequate home–based face-to-face care especially those living alone. Current identified service gaps included in relation to managing medication, limited service access over weekends, shortfalls in respite care, help with preparation of nutritious meals in the home and podiatry services. Particular groups such as CALD communities also often require specialised support services, yet there is often a lack of diverse and appropriate community services to address social isolation. There was also a need to provide suitable housing and support for those with early on-set dementia (who are under 65 years of age).

While improved awareness of dementia has led to earlier diagnosis, there remained a need to improve awareness of pathways to assessment (especially within the social housing and homelessness sector), and improve understanding from housing providers and landlords about the need for modifications. Other policy directions included in the area of advocacy and case management, expanded availability of affordable service-integrated housing and expansion of respite services for carers.

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