Hanover Housing Association manages homes for older people in more than 175 local authorities. With an increasing number of dementia patients, they were keen to use our Design in the Public Sector programme as an opportunity to improve their services.
Hanover came to the programme with a wide and ambiguous brief, but the programme helped them develop a focus in two areas: raising awareness and understanding of dementia in the organisation and staff training on how to meet the needs of people with dementia.
Through our work, through research, it became clear actually what we really need to focus on is awareness and the training of our own staff.Jaysen Chapman, Project Team Leader, Hanover Housing Association
Jaysen Chapman, Project Team Leader at Hanover Housing Association, explained their thoughts having started the programme: “It became apparent after day one that we were trying to boil the ocean! … We defined [the challenge] right down to how we can maintain or increase the wellbeing of residents who have dementia and then through our work, through research, it became clear actually what we really need to focus on is awareness and the training of our own staff.”
Firstly, Hanover undertook detailed background research with more than 200 staff. This revealed a limited awareness of dementia within the staff, while interviewed residents had little empathy or patience with dementia sufferers.
This insight enabled Hanover to develop a range of solutions to improve their services. This included awareness campaigns for residents in the form of physical and mental exercises. Meanwhile, training was organised for 132 staff, 89 residents and 291 external helpers in the ‘Dementia Friends’ scheme, and targeted support to improve links between estates and existing local support networks.
This process allowed them to pinpoint those estates with the highest levels of dementia and link them with other estates with lower levels of dementia. Newly developed facilities include a bus service where there is extra help for those with dementia, and a special provision by local libraries, where people with dementia are not charged for late returns.
The course helped us to focus on the right things and the right areas and do stuff at the right time.Jaysen Chapman, Hanover Housing Association
For the Hanover team, the Design in the Public Sector programme provided a strong focus and impetus to the Dementia Connect project. As Jaysen Chapman told us, its high levels of engagement really helped with the process:
“I think that the course helped us to focus on the right things and the right areas and do stuff at the right time... it’s probably been the most enjoyable project any of us have worked on and... probably one of the most effective as well.”
The project is ongoing.