Residents in West Yorkshire are set to enjoy extended periods of safe independent living in their homes as new dementia-ready housing criteria have been embraced. Spearheaded by Mayor Tracy Brabin’s Dementia-Ready Housing Taskforce, established in March 2022, these measures aim to provide crucial support for individuals grappling with dementia.

In a groundbreaking development, the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership has committed to implementing a set of ten measures for all new homes, not limited to housing designed for older individuals. Among these measures are personalized front doors for easy identification by those with dementia, ensuring a good level of natural light in all rooms to enhance well-being and reduce falls, and the appointment of a dementia champion within each housing organization to foster awareness of the disease among colleagues, residents, and the wider community.

Comprising housing associations, Kirklees Council, and Leeds City Council, the partnership plans to integrate as many criteria as possible into new developments and explore methods for incorporating these measures into existing homes.

Government data predicts a potential surge in the number of people living with dementia to two million by 2050, presenting a considerable challenge for the NHS and costing the UK £26.3 billion annually. Remaining in one’s own home during the aging process is crucial for many, contributing to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

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 a 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.”

The ten criteria for dementia-ready housing encompass various aspects, including easy-to-find front doors, step-free access, dementia-friendly interior decoration, and ensuring bathrooms are easily locatable. These measures not only cater to the specific needs of individuals with dementia but also contribute to a more inclusive and supportive housing environment for all residents.

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 task force 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.”

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.”