Many residents in ExtraCare retirement communities live with dementia or other mental health and wellbeing issues. Although dementia can have a notable impact on quality of life, living independently is still possible.
Read on for more information about how living in an ExtraCare retirement village can support you as you live with dementia, as well as the circumstances when other care settings may meet your needs more closely.
Dementia is often misunderstood. Technically defined as a syndrome, dementia is a collection of symptoms linked to a wide range of diseases which cause damage to the brain. Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia are the most common types of dementia, but there are in fact many different types.
Dementia symptoms include memory impairment, problem-solving difficulties, regulation of behaviour and even visual perception difficulties. Around 850,000 people are estimated to be living with a form of dementia in the UK. Although age is a key risk factor in developing a dementia-related disease, it is not purely an older people’s issue and is known to affect some younger people.
ExtraCare has a long history of supporting people living with dementia. Between 2007 and 2009 we embarked on a research study to deliver a new dementia service for our residents. This led us to create our Enriched Opportunities Programme - a dedicated service run by specially trained staff called Locksmiths (now known as Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Enablers).
Although the name of this specialist service has now changed, we still have dedicated Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Enablers to support residents living with dementia and common mental health conditions.
A Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Enabler can support you by:
The purpose of this service is to enable residents, and those involved in their care and support, to navigate the challenges brought about by dementia. We believe that it is possible to live well with dementia but accept that its symptoms have the potential to disable people from carrying out everyday tasks. The advantage of working with a Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Enabler is that they can understand your own unique experience of dementia - the disease affects everyone differently depending on the type of dementia you have. Our physical health, and important factors such as our personality and life history can also affect how we live with dementia. Bringing all these factors together helps us to build a picture of who a resident is, maximise their strengths and alleviate distress.
External research has shown that our approach to dementia care helps improve the quality of residents’ lives in a number of ways. Our dementia support programmes reduce the need for residents to relocate to less independent care settings, and residents who took part were less likely to feel depressed, rating their quality of life as significantly better.
Our dementia support services have also shown a trend towards improved cognitive functioning with thinking, reasoning and understanding skills remaining intact for longer. The study also showed that some of the behaviours associated with dementia that are often seen as a normal consequence of the disease process, are in fact challenges that can be tackled and minimised.
Working with a Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Enabler offers you the opportunity to better understand how dementia impacts on your day to day life, and where changes could be made to reduce triggers for stress and confusion.
As dementia is a progressive syndrome, the support you receive can work with you along that journey to assist you to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible, improving the understanding of your unique experience of dementia along the way.
For full research results, click here.
Aging & Mental Health Journal: EOP article
Read the National Audit Office's report on the Enriched Opportunities Programme®.
We have now changed the name of this service to the Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Service, and our former Locksmiths are now known as Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Enablers.
Everyone experiences dementia differently, so it’s not possible to say how long an ExtraCare scheme or retirement village may meet your needs.
People have remained living well in our communities with varying levels of dementia. We support individuals, their families, and other professionals involved in their care and support by making adjustments as dementia progresses.
If we felt that living in one of our communities was no longer meeting an individual’s needs - maintaining safety, dignity, and quality of life - then we would work with that individual and those involved in their care and support to find an alternative. For example, this may be a smaller care setting, with a higher level of care available.
How our Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Enablers can offer support.
It is not easy to look after someone with dementia and it can often be stressful to balance your lifestyle with the care needs of another. It could be a better option for yourself and loved one to be surrounded by a community offering specialist support and dementia services. At ExtraCare, our community and Mental Wellbeing Enablers offer support for families affected by dementia as we provide a safe and supportive environment where a person's needs are being catered for. Speak to our team today for more information on how we can support you today.
Hagley Road Retirement Village
June is a resident at our Hagley Road Village and has Alzheimer's disease (a type of dementia). A mother of four, June was diagnosed a few years ago and comments;
'I am very accepting of the fact I have dementia. I hope it doesn’t get any worse. It can be a little frustrating at times if I think about it. It doesn’t worry me much because I don’t have to remember a lot.’
Following the passing away of her husband, June moved into our retirement village into a two bedroomed apartment. She said that it was a nice move as her old house was too big and she 'was much too lonely to be left on my own'.
June continues 'I liked Hagley Road Village as soon as I visited.’
When June first moved into her new home, it was not easy for her to know where to go and find her way around so our locksmith, Carol, would pick her up from her apartment and take her to activities. As forgetfulness is a common symptom of Alzheimer's disease, ExtraCare staff help in many ways to remind residents with the condition of important information through support which is tailored towards their needs. Carol also made direction cards for June to keep to help her find her way around the Village and back to her apartment. There’s also a sign on her apartment door with a reminder for June to take her direction cards with her when she leaves.
To help June with her daily activities, Carol developed a day to day calendar for June to help her know what she is doing on that day. Our Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Enablers visit June twice a day to offer care and support as well.
Contact Us for more information on our wellbeing and care services today.