My kitchen roof fell in on me when I was cooking spaghetti a few months back. I mean, really fell! A huge chunk of it without any warning. Although, plasterboard is not fatal - it definitely finished off our tea that night. “I told you we should have fixed that crack but you wouldn’t listen” - said my partner, helpfully. “Why don’t you give Michael a ring?”
Michael is my oldest friend, a builder by trade and our first port of call when things go wrong with the house. I rang him, we talked and I got a few pointers of how to fix things up and then – because I had his attention – I checked him out on the ‘Dementia and Housing’ training Sitra is delivering in February and March of this year.
Turns out Michael knew first-hand how many homes had to be re-fitted, or re-painted because people weren’t aware that basic choices of lighting or design could make things worse, instead of better for people with dementia. But not about the toilet seats.
“Most toilets are kitted out in matching colours,” says one of our trainers, “And typically, your toilet seat is going to be the same colour - and usually as white - as the toilet itself”. What we often don’t realise is that when everything is the same colour, objects become indistinct and very hard to see for people with dementia. That leads to confusion, anxiety and sometimes serious accidents. Fix a contrasting colour seat, say black, or a strong red and the problem is solved at virtually no cost. But we’ve got to know how to do it and there’s a lot to learn.
These are some of the many practical housing issues our Sitra training addresses and we hope as many professionals working in general needs housing as possible will join us in the months ahead to learn more from our experts in the field of dementia. It’s not only smart it makes business sense. And as one of our delegates said, “What we learn here and do in our own organisations is what we can do in our own homes as all of us get older.”