Students from Ryecroft C.E. Middle School are stimulating memories and bringing laughter to residents thanks to a reading scheme that’s brought the two together.
Every Friday a group of year 7 and 8 pupils spend an hour with residents, reading to them and chatting, as well as playing games and doing crafts.
Their reading helps residents to relax, recall memories that bring them comfort and they enjoy the positive energy the young people bring.
“Our residents don’t always remember they’ve seen particular student,” said activities manager, Karen O’Moore, “but they always enjoy the sound of their voices and the stories they read.
“We can see how they relax with them and there’s often a lot of laughter. Being with the children helps them to think of younger family members or even their own childhoods.
“In those days, it was an exciting book and a torch under the bedclothes rather than a smart phone!”
The visits are something particularly enjoyed by Bill Smith, 92. He’s formed a special relationship with 11 year old Jack Moore, whose mum, Alison, is a senior carer at the home.
“Bill’s really nice, he’s really funny and we got on straight away,” said Jack. “I’ll be reading to him and suddenly he’ll remember something. We’ll talk about that for a bit, then carry on.
“I was a bit shy to start with as I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t really know anyone who has dementia, but Bill’s so easy to be with – he’s like a grandad.”
“I wish he came every day,” said Bill. “I love seeing all the children but he’s especially good company.”
The visits are part of the school’s ‘Options’ scheme – a lesson each week that pupils spend following an interest or learning a new skill.
“We weren’t sure how many children would take up the option of visiting a care home but there’s been great enthusiasm from the students,” said headteacher, Rachael Baramuszczak.
“We felt this was an important option for them. The school is just a mile away from Barrowhill Hall so it is a way for our pupils to contribute something very positive to their community. It gives them an immense amount of pride and satisfaction.”
The pupils largely spend their time in the main lounge but will take books up to residents who find it difficult to leave their rooms.
12 year old Zara Jackson is another of the students who chose to visit Barrowhill Hall.
“I wanted to come here to help me build my confidence,” she said. “I love talking to the residents and they really listen to me when I read to them.
“And it’s great to know that I’m doing something that makes them happy.”
A huge ‘congratulations!’ and a well-earned rest are due for our team of staff who completed a five mile climb up Mount Snowdon to raise money for families living with dementia.
The four staff made the near 250 mile round trip to north Wales on Saturday 15th September. They took two and a half hours to reach the 1,000m peak.
September is World Alzheimer’s Month and the staff organised their ‘Memory Walk’ in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society. Barrowhill Hall is home to 74 residents, many of whom are living with dementia.
Our activity co-ordinators Val Barnes and Becky Dalton, and carers Amy Farrell and Becky Buckley, took part in the climb
“It was a fantastic if exhausting day,” said Val. “We weren’t sure if we’d be able to do it but we were thrilled to get to the top!
“We’re so passionate about the work that we do and we wanted to show that by completing this challenge.”
The team also comprised Ann Parker and Michele Millward, teachers from Abbotsholme School in Rocester. Children from the school visit us every Monday to spend time playing and chatting with residents.
“Our little ones have gained a great deal of understanding about dementia over the last few months, and so have we,” said Ann. “We were very keen to support Barrowhill’s fundraising and the support they show for families living with dementia – even when they’re not at work!
“The climb was amazing and we’re so glad we were part of it.”
Our manager, Martin, is happily now back at work after his nursing team saved him from a potentially fatal heart attack.
Too much cake?
Martin left work on the 31st of January in considerable discomfort that he put down to cake he’d enjoyed with residents in Churnet Lodge. Despite pain in his chest that woke him up during the night, he came to work the next morning.
“He didn’t feel right and he asked me to get him some lemonade,” said his deputy manager, Rhiannon McGirr, who has more than 20 years’ nursing experience. “He thought the bubbles might help him bring up wind.”
“But as soon as I saw him I knew he needed an ambulance.”
Life saving advice
Martin eventually agreed for paramedics to be called. They took him to the Royal Stoke University Hospital where he was immediately prepped for surgery to fit stents into his arteries.
“I know I have an amazing team but I think they really did save my life,” said Martin. “The ironic thing about this is that I used to work as a cardiac nurse!
“I’d convinced myself it was just trapped wind or indigestion. But I think the fact that I asked for Rhiannon shows that I knew what was happening and I needed her help and expertise.”
Barrowhill Hall was a recent finalist in the ‘Best Nursing Care’ category of the national Care Home Awards.
Changing his lifestyle
Since his heart attack, Martin has been going for nightly walks around Bath Pool. He has cut red meat from his diet and hasn’t touched a single one of his much-loved cigarettes. He’s lost two stone in weight and wants to lose two more.
“I know how to look after my residents but I haven’t been looking after myself,” he said. “My blood pressure was too high and so was my cholesterol.”
The episode was immensely worrying for his wife Erica, and their two sons Jacob, 18, and Tobias, seven.
“Toby said to me, “Daddy, if I give you a piece of my heart will it make yours better?”” remembered Martin. “It moved me so much. The changes I’m making now are as much for my family as they are for me.”
As well as meeting Bob you can enjoy a falconry display, a miniature steam railway, live music, a range of stalls, refreshments and the chance to win a hamper courtesy of Tesco in Uttoxeter!
Visit the event on our Facebook page and tell us you’re ‘going’ and we’ll enter you into the draw to win a case of champagne!
Gardening for dementia
Bob will also be advising us on how to re-design part of our garden to make it more dementia-friendly. Being outdoors has a positive impact on wellbeing and we want to make sure our residents can access it safely. Plus, it has to meet their needs and their interests.
Join us 2.00pm – 6.00pm
Care Home Open Day is when we throw open our doors so you can see that moving into a home means you’re still very much part of your community.
Our event is FREE!
You can meet our staff and ask us about our care as well as enjoying a fun day out with all the family.
Residents have had their traditionally bland walking frames ‘pimped up’ by their young friends at Abbotsholme School.
The children have been making brightly-coloured pom-poms and sparkly stars in their weekly visits to us.
The decorations have been used to brighten up the grey Zimmer frames many of the residents use. The youngsters have also been wrapping them in colourful streamers and personalising them with people’s names.
‘Pimp my Zimmer’ is a national initiative started by a care worker in Essex who realised residents often struggled to identify their own walking frame.
The scheme, which began in 2015, is also designed to improve mobility and has helped reduce falls in some homes by 60%.
“This has been fantastic fun for us and the children,” said Barrowhill Hall’s activities coordinator Val Barnes.
“The children visit us every Monday afternoon and they’ve really enjoyed bringing some colour to what is an extremely dull but hugely important piece of equipment.”
The children visit Churnet Lodge which offers residential care and care for people in the early stages of dementia.
“We are yet to see what impact the pimped up frames will have on people’s mobility,” said Val, “but we are seeing a change in people’s mood – the bright colours and the memories of the fun they had decorating them put a smile on their faces and that’s lovely to see.”
“I’m proud of my frame.”
97 year old Peggy Hughes has enjoyed the experience with six year old Rory and four year old Jensen.
“We’ve had such a lot of fun together,” she said. “Mine is covered in pink and blue pom-poms, I’ve got stickers and pink bows and stars.
“I would never choose to use something grey but walking frames don’t come in any other colours! I’m proud of it, I want to get up and move so I can show it off!”
Our care quality manager, Geoff Aris, has scooped a top award for helping residents at Barrowhill Hall maintain their dignity.
He was recognised at the Staffordshire County Council Dignity in Care Awards on Thursday 3rd August. The awards are held annually to promote, recognise and reward those people whose actions make a difference and serve as an example to others.