A radical plan for dementia

In the West of England area I estimate there are at least 15,000 people with dementia, a figure that is set to double in just 20 years’ time. And for every person with dementia an entire network of family and friends are left to pick up the pieces. That means at least 100,000 people in our area will be on the dementia ‘frontline’ –  about 1 in 10 of us!

I believe that every level of government from the Prime Minister down to local parish councillors have a responsibility to support dementia patients and to plan for the future to make life as good as it can be for those affected.

Here in the West of England we have the opportunity to start to put things right. As Metro Mayor I will take the lead in ensuring that there is the necessary housing stock to allow support and dignity for those suffering with dementia now, and the future, and to help these individuals to stay in their homes where they feel happiest and safest, for as long as possible.

Family members need support to recognize the changing needs of the person being cared for and allow families to care for their loved one at home for as long as they wish and feel able to do so. They also need to have a life beyond caring – including the opportunity to work and travel flexibly – so their dignity and quality of life are also respected.

Our housing stock needs to be designed to recognize the health needs of people suffering from dementia and other disabilities.

As Metro Mayor, I will institute a full assessment of the West of England’s dementia needs and how house design, transport, and flexible ways of working etc. can best address the challenges identified.

This may also include the recognition of house designs that allow for external respite support to stay over at the most demanding times, and that ensures new home layouts, say to install a lift, can be easily undertaken at a later date. It could mean new house building being modular in design to easily allow the internal layout of homes to be adjusted to meet changing family needs.

The everyday health requirements of the person being cared for are paramount – particularly in the last years of their life. Needs such as physically getting to the toilet, really easy wheelchair access, good showering space, and easy house maintenance and room cleaning etc. need to be properly planned for as homes are being built, rather than as very expensive and often less good, adaptations later on.

I believe that a civilized society for those that need care, or who provide it, needs planning decades ahead. This doesn’t just mean we avoid letting down those who need us most, it also makes good sense financially for it is the most efficient use of taxpayers’ money as we face the challenge of a rapidly aging population head on.

I believe that planners, developers and builders must recognize their social responsibility in the 21st Century.  And as Metro Mayor, you can be sure I will be ensuring this is the case for the sake of all our people and their communities.

If you believe the plans I have set out above are important, please support me to become Labour’s Metro Mayor candidate. Together, we can really make a difference when it comes to dementia.

Dan Norris