Dementia affects over 800,000 people in the UK, with numbers estimated to reach over 1 million in the next decade. This debilitating illness impacts the brain and body in a number of ways, including judgement, sense of time and place, behaviour, physicality ability and the senses. As a result, people affected by dementia may not be as safe in their homes as they once were.
Understandably, most tenants with dementia want to live in their own homes for as long as they can – but this becomes increasingly dangerous as the illness progresses, this being said independent living is still entirely possible. It’s all a case of identifying, understanding and mitigating risks. Home office statistics state that the risk of dying in a house fire is more than four times higher than the national average for people aged 80 or over, and people aged between 65 and 79 – when the effects of dementia generally begin – also have a higher than average rate. These statistics indicate the importance of protecting our ageing population, with those living with dementia even more so.
The first and most important step in safeguarding vulnerable adults – particularly those with dementia – is to undertake a thorough risk assessment. If you live in a social housing property, under the Equality Act 2010, providers of social housing have a responsibility to not place any residents with a disability under unfair advantage. In order to comply with this legislation, special attention must be paid to higher risk tenants – who’ll require a higher grade of protection.
If you own your home, we advise a responsible family member, neighbour or friend conducts a risk assessment on your property to ensure fire risks are minimised. You can also contact your local Fire and Rescue service who can conduct a ‘Safe and Well’ home visit on your property to ensure you have adequate fire alarms in place for maximum safety.
Did you know that 62% of fires in the home begin in the kitchen? Utilising one’s kitchen becomes extremely risky for elderly tenants with dementia, whose illness can impact both their sensitivity to temperatures or smell and their ability to make sense of everyday household appliances.
As the most dangerous room in the house, those diagnosed with dementia or living with someone who has dementia, must take steps towards protecting those with dementia to prevent incidents that may occur in the kitchen. It’s easy to imagine how a person whose memory is impaired could forget about heating a pan or leave the hob on for too long, so it’s crucial that systems are in place to minimise risk.
We’ve established that a kitchen which will be occupied by a anyone diagnosed with dementia should contain a smoke and heat alarm and a CO alarm as the minimum. Using intelligent wireless technology as featured in our FireAngel Pro-Connected products, these products can be interlinked to create a network, so that if smoke, heat or CO triggers any alarm in the network, it activates any other network alarms and ancillary devices. This provides the best possible warning to those who may be unable to rely on a standalone alarm. Dementia is a distressing illness which can have a deeply debilitating impact on those affected. When providing social housing for those individuals, it’s crucial to ensure all possible safety measurements are in place.
Unclean hobs or a lack of adequate air supply in gas cookers can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home. Those living with dementia are far more likely to forget about these safeguarding measures that many of us have introduced in our daily lives, so ensure that an adequate carbon monoxide alarm system is in place.