Julienne Meyer, Professor Emerita of Nursing for Older People at City University, London and Chair of the new Government-appointed independent Taskforce on Older People’s Housing, visited Fern House on 19th June to meet the residents and to find out more about the emphasis the home places on community and companionship.
The dementia-friendly residential care home, which is managed by the Abbeyfield The Dales Society, hosted Professor Meyer and her fellow Taskforce member, Kathryn Smith, the CEO of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, to help inform their understanding of ‘People, Product and Places’ in older people’s housing, which is the Taskforce’s foremost area of examination. The Taskforce work is looking at how to ensure a better range of housing options for older people across the country. They are looking at how to ensure the housing market works for older people, now and in the future, and gives them greater choice in where they choose to live.
Following a presentation and a tour of Fern House, Professor Meyer and the other guests had lunch with some of the residents to hear more about what it was like to live at the home, how it compared to their lives before they moved in, and to join in the communal mealtimes that are a cornerstone of Abbeyfield’s offer.
"I was delighted to spend time with residents over lunch at Abbeyfield The Dales Fern House and speak with members of staff. Making sure the voices of older people are heard is at the heart of this Taskforce. I look forward to visiting a range of housing options for older people across the lifetime of the Taskforce."Professor Meyer
Philip Birkenshaw, CEO of Abbeyfield The Dales Society, said “We were delighted to host members of the Taskforce to showcase our progressive building design and service offering to enable our residents to thrive and enjoy their later life. Building and sustaining a local community with facilities to enable residents to positively engage with each other through friendships and companionship is the cornerstone of what we do. Our building may be visually impressive, but it is how it enables residents to live within the Abbeyfield model, which is the most important part.”
The recent establishment of the long-awaited Taskforce on Older People’s Housing was a recommendation of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Housing and Care for Older People which Abbeyfield have been playing an increasingly pivotal role in.
Abbeyfield has subsequently been announced as the sponsor of the APPG’s latest inquiry on the topic of the ‘Regeneration of Outdated Sheltered Housing’ and will participate in the analysis of the problems and opportunities arising from the age, condition and locality of sheltered housing existing across the country. The report, produced by the inquiry, which is chaired by Lord Best, may, amongst other things, influence and inform the Taskforce’s recommendations to the Government and potentially impact policy for years to come.
Lending their expertise to the inquiry’s investigations and deliberations will be Abbeyfield Head of Development & Relationships, Abdul A Ravat, and CEO, Paul Tennant, who was also at Fern House to meet Prof. Meyer.
Prof. Meyer’s visit to Fern House was the second policy review-related event to be held there within a year, with the home having hosted a meeting of the West Yorkshire Dementia Ready Housing Task Force (WYDTF) in August 2022. Attended by Tracy Brabin the Mayor of West Yorkshire, representatives from the Department of Health & Social Care, and members of the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership, the meeting looked at the steps the WYDTF has taken towards producing a Dementia Strategy for West Yorkshire, with the central aim of ensuring that all older people’s housing and related services are dementia-friendly.