Dementia Dwelling Grant (DDG)

One of the best things about being a researcher is witnessing the difference that services can make to people’s daily lives, particularly when they come at a relatively low cost. So I have greatly enjoyed being part of a research team with the Association for Dementia Studies, at the University of Worcester, where we have been exploring the impact of the Dementia Dwelling Grant (DDG) across Worcestershire.

The DDG is a simple idea: provide people with dementia with a few relatively small-scale aids that enable them and their family carers to go about their day to day lives while living in their own homes.

Crucially, the grant was not means tested, which had the advantages of eliminating the need for complex paperwork and checks, and reducing the stigma that can come with this sort of scheme. Worcestershire was able to take this approach by top-slicing from the DFG allocation for people on the diagnostic pathway for Dementia.

Referrals were accepted from the Worcestershire Early Intervention Dementia Service, GPs, the Community Older Adult Mental Health Team, via self-referral and through family members. Assessments were carried out by the local Dementia Advisors, and aids were fitted by the handyperson service if required. Among the 382 people who received a grant during the year-long pilot, the most popular items were the freestanding dementia clock, notice board/white board, automatic lighting, touch beside light and key safe.

In addition to using standardised measures of wellbeing, we also carried out some in-depth case studies with a sample of people with dementia and their families who received a grant. Our evaluation has shown that relatively inexpensive aids can contribute towards the maintenance of wellbeing and resilience of people with dementia in domestic settings, while also increasing the skills and confidence of professionals involved in the project. An added bonus was seen in the strengthened partnerships between the collaborating organisations across health, housing, social care and the University.