GBHI Partners with Housing Agency to Develop Brain Health Training
Dementia is a growing public health crisis. There are approximately 55,000 people living with dementia in Ireland today and this number is expected to increase to 113,000 by 2036. Worldwide, there are around 50 million people living with dementia and this will likely triple by 2050.
Many factors associated with increased dementia risk are modifiable—low education level, high blood pressure, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, low social contact, excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury, and air pollution—and many of these risk factors relate to housing security and our built environment. Tackling these risk factors and promoting brain health may prevent or delay the onset of dementia at a population level.
As a not-for-profit housing resource and service provider, Respond Housing Agency, an Approved Housing Body, plays a central role in providing homes and supporting communities around Ireland. They also provide a range of services, including family homeless services, day care services for older people, early childhood care and education, family support, and refugee resettlement services.
At the intersection of brain health and housing, the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) is collaborating with Respond to develop a brain health training program. This program aims to create awareness and understanding of the importance of brain health, including how threats to brain health can affect a person’s behavior and interactions, best practices to manage such threats, and guidance to cultivate the brain health of the larger community.
“We want to promote the concept of brain health and housing,” said Brian Lawlor, Deputy Executive Director of GBHI. “And to raise awareness of the importance of a secure home and supported environment to everyone’s brain health and wellbeing.”
Respond’s work in building sustainable, intergenerational communities makes them well placed to amplify the lessons offered in this brain health training program and to disseminate their learnings locally and globally and through their national and international peer networks.
“This training will help to build understanding of the importance of brain health,” said Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for Respond. “And to learn best practice approaches and techniques when working to support people to reach their full potential.”
Respond and GBHI’s brain health training program will run from November 2020 to April 2021. It was designed and will be facilitated by Brian Lawlor (Deputy Director of GBHI), Iracema Leroi (Associate Professor of Geriatric Psychiatry), Yaohua Chen (Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health), Naiara Demnitz (Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health), Eoin Cotter, (Program Lead of GBHI Learning Experience), and Ronan Breathnach (Executive Officer, Learning Experience).
The team hopes this program will inform other training initiatives across its global community.
“Housing is much more than a basic need,” said Lawlor. “The right home environment can help grow brain connections and allow people to flourish in their communities.”
About Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI)
The Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) is a leader in the global community dedicated to protecting the world's aging populations from threats to brain health. GBHI works to reduce the scale and impact of dementia around the world by training and connecting the next generation of leaders in brain health through the Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health program; by collaborating in expanding preventions and interventions; and by sharing knowledge and engaging in advocacy.
The Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health program, based at GBHI, provides innovative training, networking and support to emerging leaders who are focused on bringing transformative change to improve brain health and reduce the impact of dementia worldwide. It is one of seven Atlantic Fellows programs to advance fairer, healthier and more inclusive societies.
GBHI is based at the University of California, San Francisco, and Trinity College Dublin. Visit http://www.gbhi.org or find us on Twitter @GBHI_Fellows.
Respond, a not‐for‐profit housing association, has been working all around Ireland for over 38 years. Their vision is that every family and individual in Ireland will have high‐quality housing as part of a vibrant and caring community. They firmly believe that housing and decent accommodation, in the areas where people want to live, are central to improving people’s lives and enhancing the health and well‐being of society. Approximately 10,378 tenants live in 4,520 homes across the 26 counties that we either own or manage, of these there are 4,250 Respond social tenancies.
They provide emergency accommodation with support for families who are homeless in six Family Homeless Services where our goal is to support families to move into secure homes as quickly as possible leaving homelessness behind. They provide wraparound support in relation to access to housing, mental and physical health services, family or parenting support and a range of other issues. They also continue to work with families once they have moved on to ensure the sustainability of these exits. In addition to housing and related work they also provide Day Care Services for Older People, Early Childhood Care and Education, Family Support and Refugee Resettlement Services.
Fellows and Faculty Mentioned
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About the Seminar Series
The Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) and Respond are delighted to co-host a series of seminars which will advance our understanding of brain health as it applies to housing design, care provision and homeless services. Seminars will bring together leading brain health and housing experts to examine:
- The design of housing services in the context of ageing and dementia.
- Promoting brain health, across the life-course, and developing sustainable communities.
- Equity, brain health and housing.
- The human perspective of brain health issues for both housing service users and providers.
Design for Ageing
Please join us for the inaugural seminar, 21 June, which will explore the biomedical, social, design, and community considerations of age-adapted living including the relationship between brain health and the built environment and how green innovations can help older adults live healthier and happier lives.
It will be an action-oriented session, aiming to discuss, generate and disseminate best practice in the field.
This opening seminar will be launched by Darragh O’Brien, T.D., Irish Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and will be chaired by Aine Kerr, journalist and co-founder of Kinzen.
OECD Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Policy Briefs: A crisis on the horizon: Ensuring affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities.
Bibliography of scientific articles that show different benefits of nature in aged care.
Ian Robertson – Co-Director, Global Brain Health Institute
Ian Robertson is a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist with a unique ability to apply his research to real world problems. He is Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Trinity College and was the founding Director of Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, as well as Dean of Research of Trinity College.
Declan Dunne – CEO, Respond
Declan Dunne joined Respond as Chief Executive Officer in August 2016. Declan’s previous role was Chief Executive Officer with Sophia Housing Association. He served as a Director of the North Dublin Development Coalition at DCU for nine years, was a non-executive Director of the Ballymun Regeneration Board for ten years and was a Director of Ballymun Whitehall Enterprise Centre for ten years. Declan was Chair of the Housing Alliance from 2018 to 2020.
Greg Walsh and Fiona Walsh – Co-Founders, DDS Architects, Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health
Talk Title – "The Relationship between Brain Health and the Built Environment"
Greg and Fiona Walsh are co-founders of DDS Architects, specialising in evidence-based dementia inclusive design, where they design aesthetically beautiful buildings and interiors that are enabled for people living with cognitive, sensory and/or physical impairments and people in later life. They completed the Atlantic Fellows program at GBHI in 2019 where they advanced the understanding of the relationship between brain health and architecture.
Greg and Fiona advocate on the topic of Dementia Inclusive Design with the Irish and UK governments, WHO, World Dementia Council, LSE, NHS, HSE, NDO, ADI, Irish Dementia Working Group. Publications include ‘Late Life Brain Health Architecture’ in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and a recent article for Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) on designing dementia-inclusive environments.
Rutger de Graaf – Innovation Manager, Pennemes and Het Mennistenerf
Talk Title – "Nature Assisted Health Innovations in Elderly Care"
Dr. Rutger de Graaf works as innovation manager in the Dutch health care organizations Pennemes and Het Mennistenerf. More than 1500 people live, work, eat and receive care in these centres. These centres function as testing grounds for nature-assisted innovations.
Berenice Werle – Geriatrician, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health
Berenice Werle is a geriatrician, Vice President of the state section of the Brazilian Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology, and Director of the Moriguchi Institute. Berenice participates in support groups for caregivers and family members of patients with dementia, teaching classes with guidance. She is working on a population project to create a friendly environment for people with dementia.
Suzanne Timmons – Clinical Lead, National Dementia Office
Prof. Suzanne Timmons is Clinical Lead for the Irish National Dementia Office, academic geriatrician in the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation, University College Cork (UCC), and Programme Coordinator for the MSc Dementia and MSc Older Person Rehabilitation, UCC. Her research includes health service evaluation/planning and interdisciplinary research in dementia, delirium, and Parkinson's disease. She was senior author on Cluid’s “A Home for Life” report (2015).
Marissa Plouin – Housing Policy Analyst, OECD
Marissa Plouin is a lead analyst for the OECD’s work on affordable housing, and manages the OECD Affordable Housing Database in the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs. In over ten years at the OECD, she has worked with national, regional and city governments around housing and urban policies. Prior to her current role, she contributed to the OECD’s cross-cutting work on Inclusive Growth in the Office of the Secretary-General.
Nora Owen – Former Irish Minister for Justice
Nora Owen was an Irish politician for over 20 years. She was elected to the Dáil in 1981–2002 where she chaired the Parliamentary Overseas Aid Committee and vice-chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee. She served as Spokesperson for the Opposition in a number of portfolios – Health, Overseas Aid, Foreign Affairs, Enterprise and Employment. Nora was Deputy Leader of Fine Gael (1993–2001) and Minister of Justice (1994–1997).
Tom Grey – Research Fellow, TrinityHaus Research Centre, Trinity College
Tom Grey is a Research Fellow in TrinityHaus Research Centre and works at the intersection of architectural design, urbanism and universal design to examine how the built environment can support health and well-being, inclusion, and social participation. Creating age-attuned and healthful environments for older people is a key research area with recent projects focusing on housing and dementia and dementia-inclusive communities.