Belfast Telegraph

Dementia centre is world class

By Michael McDonnell

In the coming years, Northern Ireland is likely to experience the highest growth in its older population of any part of the UK. By 2035, Government statistics estimate that those over 65 will constitute 473,000 of the population.

That presents significant challenges to both social housing and health and social care providers, which we can meet by working together.

Today, the Social Development and Health ministers will jointly open Hemsworth Court on Belfast's Shankill Road, which is currently home to 31 people with dementia and their families.

By bringing together the skills of a housing association, health and social care providers and external experts, we have built a world-class facility which meets the needs of those with dementia and their loved-ones.

The co-operation of the wider community in making projects like Hemsworth successful is vital. It also shows the wider regenerative and community benefits developments like Hemsworth Court have.

Everything about Hemsworth Court - from its design and build to its day-to-day running - is based around the needs of tenants.

It has already been recognised with awards from the Dementia Centre, the NI Housing Council and the Chartered Institute of Housing. As well as being a beacon of high architectural, social housing and care standards, it is also a sign of what can be achieved when departments and agencies work together.

Today's financial environment means it is important that we see public funds used wisely. By focusing on outputs - how can we deliver the best care for those with dementia and the elderly - and bringing together all those who can deliver these outputs, we can achieve more success like that at Hemsworth Court.

The partnership approach taken by Helm Housing and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, along with Supporting People and the NI Housing Executive, to delivering homes for vulnerable groups stands out as a model to deliver further housing and community cohesion. Helm Housing is proud to be a partner in this work.

Michael McDonnell is chief executive of Helm Housing

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