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West Yorkshire

Mayor’s plans for ‘dementia ready’ homes in West Yorkshire unveiled

People in West Yorkshire will be able to live in their own homes safely for longer as new dementia-ready criteria for housing have been agreed.

This was developed by Mayor Tracy Brabin’s Dementia-Ready Housing Taskforce, set up in March 2022, to support people living with the disease.

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin.JPG
Mayor Tracy Brabin

In a significant breakthrough, the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership has agreed to adopt the list of ten measures for all new homes, and not just older people’s housing. This includes personalising front doors, so they are easy for people living with dementia to find, a good level of natural light in all rooms to improve wellbeing and reduce falls, and appointing a dementia champion at each housing organisation to promote understanding of the disease among colleagues, residents, and the community.

The partnership, made up of housing associations, as well as Kirklees Council and Leeds City Council, will incorporate as many of the criteria on new developments as possible and is also looking at how to incorporate the measures in existing homes.

According to government data, the number of people living with dementia could rise to two million by 2050 – double the number of people with the disease today. Dementia costs the UK £26.3 billion a year and is a significant challenge for the NHS.

For many people, staying in their own home as they age helps them live a happier, healthier life.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire said:

“Living with dementia shouldn’t mean losing your home, community, or dignity. We want people in West Yorkshire to live happier and healthier lives, so making homes dementia-ready means as people get older, they can remain independent in a supportive environment for longer.

“These simple but effective measures are testament to our work to ensure that we have high quality housing across the region that meets the needs of our people and communities.

“Together, with our partners, we’re dedicated to building a stronger, more vibrant West Yorkshire that works for all.”

  1. A front door that is easy to find, day or night – This could be through different coloured front doors or adding other distinctive features such as wall-hung planters.

  2. Step-free access to all doors for new homes – Falls are more common for those with dementia. Without a step, people can get outside more easily.

  3. Internal decoration that avoids confusion – Dementia can change perception so bold patterns, stripes and highly contrasting floor tones may cause problems.

  4. The bathroom is easy to find – Being able to find the toilet easily, especially during the night, helps people to retain independence and dignity.

  5. Bathroom locks aid rescue – Falls in the bathroom are common and being able to get help quickly is vital.  A door that can be unlocked from the outside in an emergency could save a life.

  6. A good level of natural light in all rooms - Exposure to natural light improves wellbeing and can also help to prevent falls.

  7. A view of nature in at least one habitable room – Connection with the natural environment stimulates memory and can slow down the progression of the symptoms of dementia.

  8. Access to an outdoor space that is easy to navigate – Outdoor activity helps the brain process and coordinate. It also promotes a healthy sleep pattern.

  9. Amenities and other homes within 1km – People with dementia are less likely to drive so having amenities close by is important for independence and promoting activity.

  10. An active dementia champion within the housing organisation – The Champion's role is to promote understanding of dementia among their colleagues, residents, and wider community.

A dementia housing taskforce was pledged by Tracy Brabin before her election as Mayor, to help ensure that people with dementia have the quality of housing they need to keep them safe, and to live well independently for as long as possible.

Helen Lennon, CEO of Connect Housing and Chair of the Dementia Ready Taskforce said:

“We’re extremely grateful to the Mayor for convening the Dementia-Ready Housing Taskforce, and also to members of the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership who unanimously agreed to adopt these important criteria.  

“The partnership recognised the great work carried out by the taskforce in producing clear guidance for housing providers so that we can help people living with dementia stay independent in their homes and communities.

“Our partnership members will strive to include this guidance in our new developments and also when work is being carried out to our 170,000 existing homes across West Yorkshire.”

Homes in West Yorkshire could have personalised front doors, so they are easy for people l
Homes in West Yorkshire could have personalised front doors, so they are easy for people living with dementia to find

Plans for dementia-ready homes across the region were endorsed at the region’s Place, Regeneration and Housing committee on the 29th of February. Members of the committee also approved plans for 1,119 new high quality homes across West Yorkshire.

The Combined Authority’s other work around dementia includes the Orange Wallet Travel Card scheme which gives people with communication difficulties or disabilities a subtle way of letting bus drivers know that they may need extra time or help.

In addition to this, the Criminal Justice and Mental Health Forum is working on the ‘Right Care Right Person’ model to ensure that people calling the emergency services and in police custody receive the right care, at the right time, in the best place, by the most qualified person.

Fatima Khan-Shah, West Yorkshire’s Inclusivity Champion said:

“Putting people at the heart of the decisions we make will have a better result for people’s wellbeing and health.

“These measures show that in West Yorkshire, we’re putting in place long term plans to make housing truly accessible for all and build stronger, happier communities.

“While this will have a positive impact for people living with dementia, it will also benefit people living with a disability or a long term condition as well as their carers.”

Contact Information

Mellissa Dzinzi

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