Stylish dementia care

22 August 2019 | Jo Doverman

This week’s blog is of a slightly more serious note for me – my previous works of wordsmith wizardry focused on sausages, millennials and doughnuts – but this week I’m taking a look at a collaboration which highlights some flipping great PR for Swedish homeware brand, Ikea, and helps raise awareness of dementia.

The serious bit: it’s a terrifying statistic, but the number of people thought to be affected by dementia is predicted to rise up to 35%  by 2025 and 146% by 2050. In the UK alone, there are 850,000 people estimated to be living with dementia and 1 in 3 people born in the UK this year will develop the disease in their lifetime. I could go on, but as we all know, dementia is a horrible disease which affects so many of the nation at some point in our lives.

The first thought for many when you mention ‘dementia care’ or even care homes in general, is probably dull, boring and tired looking establishments for patients to live in and be cared for. However, a very exciting project has just been launched, which looks like it’s going to shake up the otherwise slightly drab housing options for people living with dementia.

Queen Silvia (the Queen of Sweden) is showing her support for a new project to construct affordable housing for those suffering with dementia. The SilviaBo project is collaborating with Ikea and Swedish construction company, Skanska (the two companies go by the name of BoKlok), and aims to make housing for dementia patients accessible, safe and secure. Unbeknownst to me, the two companies joined forces way back in 1990 and have actually been creating affordable and sustainable housing for years; they’ve built 11,000 homes to date throughout Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.

After almost 30 years of creating beautiful and sustainable housing, BoKlok is now moving into creating homes for those suffering from memory loss, ultimately allowing patients to continue living in their own homes for much longer, before moving into care facilities – which can often be more distressing for both the patient and their families.

Remaining at home and in familiar surroundings can sometimes help reduce the impact that dementia has on a patient and those who care for them. Evidence has also suggested that music can improve someone’s mood, behaviour and wellbeing, and ‘musical memory’ is often retained when other precious memories are lost. This was beautifully demonstrated in the BBC One documentary, ‘Our dementia choir’ earlier this year.

The first SilviaBo homes have been built in Stockholm and feature dementia-friendly layouts and design features, feature gardens and clubhouses to encourage socialising and outdoor activities. Unlike many care home choices, any patients with a low-income will only pay what they can afford and building costs will be scaled down. The homes are pretty much entirely prefabricated and delivered in classic Ikea flat pack style.

The project is even branching out to newly-retired people too, allowing those over the age of 65 to live in a sustainable, accessible and safe environment as they move through their later years - this is similar to the extra care living model we rave about for many of our care home clients.

This project brings some great PR to the table for Ikea, but I hope more initiatives like this will be supported by Kings, Queens, presidents and prime ministers across the world. It takes action from the top to impact change and with dementia rapidly becoming one of the biggest killers, projects like this will add a dash of positivity, comfort and peace of mind to the unfortunate diagnosis facing so many people.

If you’re a care home, dementia charity or similar and looking for PR support, please feel free to get in touch. We care about people who care, so we’d love to have a chat.