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Supporting older people’s mental health and wellbeing

Promoting good mental health and wellbeing in older people and living well with dementia is an essential part of Derwen’s active ageing approach.

  • People over 65, particularly older women, are more prone to depression than any other age. Depression effects about 22% of older men and 28% of older women.
  • 43,477 people in Wales were diagnosed with dementia in 2014 (with an estimated additional 25,000 undiagnosed) with a projected increase of 31% by 2021.
  • Mental ill health can have a significant impact on life expectancy and is a key cause of health inequalities. People with severe and enduring mental health problems die on average 10 years earlier than the general population

Mental Health in Wales: Fundamental Facts 2016 (MHF)

What is Active Ageing?

Derwen is a housing association with over 800 properties for older people in South Wales, ranging from estates of bungalows, apartments in small and larger blocks, some with communal areas and an extra care scheme. Our whole ethos is to promote active ageing, supporting people to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing and to enjoy being an active member of the community. We want to ensure that older people are thriving not just surviving.

There is considerable evidence about the negative impact that physical ill health, lack of physical activity and social isolation has on older people’s mental health and wellbeing. This can become a vicious circle with physical ill health leading to lack of physical activity leading to social isolation.

Active ageing is about promoting healthy lifestyles, managing long term conditions, and having meaningful and enjoyable activities. Our active ageing team do this through a number of ways.

 Health and Wellbeing Hub

Communal space is important to hold activities and one of our properties have converted an apartment into a Health and Wellbeing Hub. This enables us to work with partners such as Cardiff Metropolitan University where we promote health initiatives such as The Pudding Club. Student nutritionist’s devise healthy recipes which residents then cook and serve up to other residents. Speech and language therapy students join in for the conversation.

Active Ageing 1 Active Ageing 2

Healthy eating at the Pudding Club

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Students from different disciplines have placements in our properties and both residents and students benefit from the intergenerational involvement. An artist in residence worked with residents to produce an interactive tablecloth – each resident has decided the medium they want to work in and the image which has meaning to them. The student has talked to residents about their memories, recording their stories. The completed tablecloth made from individual pieces will have the recordings stitched below the work and will play when activated. A number of residents who have not participated in other activities came out and were involved in this work.

 Active Ageing 3 Active Ageing 4Art student and residents making a ‘talking tablecloth’

Particularly popular with residents has been the students providing alternative therapies, reflexology and massage. One resident said ‘I am always in pain from arthritis but after the (full body) massage I felt like I could run round the whole block’

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One to one alternative therapies – reflexology, massage

We actively look to work with partners to benefit from their expertise and are currently working with other housing associations to look at ways to raise funding to work with the Mental Health Foundation on a project about making connections – bringing people together for shared experiences and memories, but the with added depth of trained facilitators, bringing their mental health expertise to ensure the support of the more vulnerable participants.

‘Derwen Links’

Having a meaningful contribution to society is important to self esteem and wellbeing. Some residents on our largest bungalow estate have been promoting Derwen Links through ‘Knock a neighbour’ bringing new and more isolated residents out to socialise at the community hut. A group of residents are now volunteering as Community Champions. Two of the champions have recently been involved in a Welsh government consultation on social isolation and loneliness.

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Derwen residents participating in Welsh Government consultation on social isolation and loneliness with AM Jayne Bryant

Going Forward

We have an active development programme and our larger pipeline developments have community hubs, a place for residents to socialise and take part in activities but also for use by health and social care organisations to provide services to residents and the wider community. The new spaces include a café area and are ideal for use as a dementia café.

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The Community Hub in our pipeline development in The Gaer

Dementia Friendly

We are committed to becoming a dementia friendly organisation and are rolling out our dementia plan. This includes increasing the number of staff and residents who are Dementia Friends through sessions run by our four staff Dementia Friend Champions. We have reviewed our design guide for new and refurbished properties to include dementia friendly design and are carrying out assessments to our existing properties to see how they can become more dementia friendly.

For more information contact Denise Brennan, Head of Active Ageing (maternity cover) Derwen denise.brennan@derwencymru.co.uk tel: 07557437027

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Talk to us

For more information on this subject or on any other matter relating to Derwen Cymru, please contact us via telephone on 01633 261990. Alternatively you can use our online form or send us an email.