A SIMPLE fact – as life expectancy increases for all of us, we can also expect to see an increase in the number of people living with dementia.
Current statistics indicate there are more than 800,000 people with the condition in the UK today.
But by 2025 it is predicted that the number will have passed the one million mark, raising the question of who will care for people living with the condition.
And in Sheffield, dementia services are on the political agenda as two council-owned care centres - Norbury, in Norwood, and Bole Hill View in Crookes - face the axe under a cost-cutting drive.
But elsewhere in the city, 11 care homes are run by the registered charity Sheffcare, which began operating as a not-for-profit company in 1993, providing a high quality of residential and day care for more then 400 older people.
Recognising the growing need for specialist care for people living with dementia, Sheffcare currently has specialist dementia wings at seven of its homes across the city.
Deerlands Residential Home, in the heart of Parson Cross, opened its dementia wing earlier this year and now has 14 rooms for people living with the condition, meeting all requirements of national regulating body the Care Quality Commission.
“We have had an extensive programme of refurbishment and improvement at the home and we are absolutely delighted with the results,” said Deerlands manager Diane Iwanejko.
“We believe in providing a safe but stimulating atmosphere in the dementia wing and we have a full range of activities and a specially trained activity worker who identifies what each of the residents needs to make their life more rewarding.”
Diane is particularly proud of the fact that the dementia care at Deerlands, as with all the other Sheffcare homes, is tailored specifically to the needs of each individual. “All our homes have their own unique selling points,” she said. “In our case, the fact that we are all on one level is extremely important because it allows people to move around safely and there is even safe access to our special garden area.
“A garden is an important for somebody living with dementia as it is for any other resident, somewhere you can breath fresh air, where you can hear birds and neighbours and you can even hear the sound of buses and traffic, all the things that remind us of the world around us.
“It is important too that we take our residents out into the community whenever possible, giving them chance to interact with everyday life.”
Every home in the charity’s chain will have a dedicated Dementia Champion by the end of next year and dementia awareness will be a core feature of all Sheffcare induction and training, with activity workers in particular receiving advanced specialist dementia training.
“We all want our mums and dads, our grandparents, all our loved ones to maintain their dignity and that’s why our training is so important,” Diane explained.
“We are not miracle workers and we cannot solve all problems of dementia instantly but these levels of training and understanding mean that Sheffcare staff can help people to live with dementia as positively as possible.
“And it is also important that we try to help families to understand what is happening too.
“Living with dementia and moving to somewhere like Deerlands isn’t about losing friends, it’s about making new ones and what we try to do is enrich people’s lives, work with them to the point that residential care enhances their life and stops them being lonely and afraid.”
The charity’s chief executive Belinda Gibson supported Diane’s positive message.
“People living with dementia can be supported to manage their lives if they receive the right level of support in the right place at the right time,” she said.
“For some this will be support at home, while for others this may mean residential care.
“Providing the best possible care is both rewarding and an expectation at Sheffcare.
“Moving into residential care is simply the start of a different chapter in your life and it is important to everyone at Sheffcare that this is delivered with compassion and in a way which enables people to manage their care.”
To find out more about Sheffcare’s facilities email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.sheffcare.co.uk or call 0800 542 1256.