This housing model has its focus firmly on providing for those living with dementia.

These days we are, as a race, living longer, and, accordingly, many of us are likely to live with dementia in some form at some stage of our lives.

Whilst many people with dementia are cared for at home either by family members or carers, hospitalisation is often required in a health crisis; this can exacerbate the symptoms of dementia and possibly lead to longer hospital stays.

It has been estimated that, currently, people with dementia occupy 25% of hospital beds, often when the medical need is not acute. The shortage of good quality nursing/care home beds and dementia specialist homes is an issue in many areas of the UK.

National context

It is estimated approximately 850,000 people are currently living with dementia in the UK. This will increase to 1m by 2025 and 2m by 2050. The current cost of dementia in the UK is £26 billion. On average 69% of people living in care homes have dementia. An estimated 540,000 people in England act as primary carers for people with dementia.

Local context

Devon has an older than average population compared to England and a growing population particularly those in older age groups.”

PCTs and local authorities are required to produce a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) of the health and wellbeing of their local community as a requirement of The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.

The Department of Health requires Local Strategic Partnerships, Primary Care Trusts and Local Authorities to consider the needs of their local population and respond with effective commissioning of services to meet those needs.

The Devon JSNA Overview 2018 found that Devon has an older and growing population attributable to longer life expectancy and internal migration. Some of the main findings were:

  • In 2012, there were 13,312 people estimated to have dementia in Devon = (1%) of Devon population
  • This is expected to increase to 21,858 by 2030
  • The total cost to Devon of people with dementia is estimated to be £333.6 million and will rise to £556.8 by 2030
  • Approximately 40% of nursing home residents and 37% of residential residents in Devon live with dementia

The iReach model

Making the decision for you or your partner to go into a nursing home is life changing. This is especially true when a dementia diagnosis is also involved. Organisations that deal directly with dementia care identify that individuals with dementia will need more care and support as their condition progresses. The time may come when a care home where staff can provide continuous, 24- hour support when needed, may better meet the needs of the person.

For many people with dementia, moving homes more than once can make them disorientated or unsettled; therefore, moving to a residential care home where they can remain as their needs increase is very important. The vision for the iReach model is to enable long term residence through a tiered approach to care.

The aim is for the care home to also become a hub for care in the local community. Using the Harmony and Horizon models of older persons housing sitting alongside the home means any care needed by the residents can easily be achieved by utilising the 24-hour care team. The care could also be provided to other people in the community as and when needed.

The care home will also enable those family and friends who live in the adjoining homes and community to visit their loved ones more easily and allow them to spend quality time with that person without having to focus on providing day-today care.

With life spans increasing and a rising numbers of people living with dementia, we see it as imperative to deliver an innovative approach to care and support in communities.