08

Jan

Barrowhill Hall keeps Christmas special for family living with young onset dementia

Christmas is a special celebration for the Burton family from Stretton in Derbyshire.  But the day has taken on a different feel since dad, Ian, was diagnosed with young onset dementia.

Ian, a former solider and a technical support worker for Derbyshire Police, has lived with us for the last three years.  His wife Wendy says staff always make the day as special for them as they can.

How Christmas used to be

“Christmas was always a big affair in our house,” she remembered.  “We would have Bucks Fizz and croissants in the morning and then we’d open presents with our three daughters, Emma, Rachel and Sophie.

“Ian would always put a lot of energy into playing with them and their new toys!  We’d all go for a walk with the dogs and then spend the afternoon watching telly.  It was lovely.”

But the last Christmas Ian had at home was a very different experience.  Diagnosed with behavioural variant fronto-temporal dementia (bvFTD) at the age of 50, three years in his symptoms had become more pronounced.

“He wanted to walk all the time and we couldn’t keep him indoors,” said Wendy.  “He was in and out of other people’s houses and the whole experience was very stressful.

“Ian went to Barrowhill Hall for respite in October 2016 and spent his first Christmas there that year.  Much as we missed him it was a relief to know he was safe and well-cared for.”

More than 42,000 people in the UK are estimated to have young onset dementia.  The term is used to describe dementia that starts before the age of 65.  It is also described as ‘early-onset dementia’ and ‘working-age dementia’.

A home that meets Ian’s needs

Ian’s behavioural variant fronto-temporal dementia affects the parts of the brain responsible for complex thinking, personality and behaviour.  One of the greatest changes it has brought about in him is that he is constantly on the move.  Wendy says Barrowhill Hall is ideally suited to his needs.

“He lives in Churnet Lodge which has wide corridors and plenty of space so he can roam around.  We always visit him on Christmas Day and if he decides not to sit with us for long, that’s ok.”

Staff do their best to keep the quiet lounge at Churnet Lodge free on Christmas morning so Ian can spend time with his three children and two grandchildren, who make the 44 mile round trip to see him.

“Ian doesn’t always recognize us as his family and he’s non-verbal now.  But we can see he still gets pleasure out of the little ones.  We keep back some of the grandchildren’s presents so they can open them with him and he does seem to enjoy that.

“We always bring him gifts.  His Scottish heritage has become increasingly important to him, as has his military career.  We’ve bought him cushions for his room with Highland cows on and photographs for his wall.

“There’s still room for humour too – his nickname at home was always Mr Grumpy and he’s got a bedding set of his namesake from the Seven Dwarves!”

Wendy works as a dementia advisor for the charity Making Space in Derby.  She finds it comforting spending time with the other residents and chatting to staff who she’s got to know well.

“Families are always welcome as this is home for their loved ones,” said home manager, Matthew Whitfield.

“We always try to make Christmas as enjoyable as possible, whatever form that might take for them.

“For Wendy, Ian and the family, it’s giving them some quiet time together and being there when Ian gets to his feet so the family can relax and wait for him to go back to them again.”

The Burtons head home just before Christmas lunch is served at Churnet Lodge.

“It’s horrible to go away from him,” said Wendy, “but the Christmas before he moved into Barrowhill Hall was so difficult.  It’s a much calmer celebration now.

“The girls know their dad is in the best place and he’s well-cared for.  We love seeing the other residents enjoying Christmas – the staff really do make it as nice as it can be.”

17

Dec

Elvis and the Elves make it a musical Christmas at our festive fair

It was anything but a ‘Blue Christmas’ for our residents when they were treated to a visit by Elvis and his Elves.

Local entertainer, James McGrath, brought the King’s festive magic to Barrowhill Hall for our Christmas fair on Saturday 7th December, allowing residents to reminisce about the hits of bygone days.

He was supported by our suitably dressed activities team.

“Elves have been a theme for us this month,” said Becky Buckley, Activities Manager at the 74 bedroomed dementia care and nursing home.

“We extended ‘Elf Day’ in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society to run for longer so we could raise more money, and elves seemed the perfect accompaniment to Elve-is!”

We welcomed families who came to spend time with their loved ones.  Resident Ian Sutton’s six grandchildren came to see him and enjoy the fun.

Little boy receiving a present from Santa and his elf
Four year old Bobby Scott loved meeting Santa

Santa welcomed children into his grotto to hear their wishes for Christmas.  Four year old Bobby Scott from Uttoxeter was thrilled to meet him and receive a present.

The children also got to meet the ‘Pets as Therapy’ dogs who visit once a month and bring calming contact and quiet affection to those living with dementia and memory loss.

“It was a fantastic afternoon,” said Becky.  “Bobby’s family decided to come along – they don’t have a loved one living here but they’d seen our posters locally.

“They said what a lovely afternoon they had and thought it was a wonderful event for our residents.”

A choir performing with keyboard accompaniament
The Something Else Choir

The Christmas fair also included entertainment from the ‘Something Else’ choir.

There were gift stalls from local businesses including Paula’s Petals from Rocester.  The tombola stall raised £80 towards activities for residents to enjoy.

“We love it when families come in and have fun with us, whether they have a relative here or not” said home manager, Matthew Whitfield.

“My little boy is nearly two and he loves the music and the decorations.

“We couldn’t quite manage three kings this Christmas but the one we did have was all we needed!”

01

Oct

TV antiques expert Charles Hanson ‘clocks’ on to Teresa’s heirloom at our open day

TV antiques expert, Charles Hanson valued treasured possessions brought along to our open day on Saturday 14th September.

The star of the BBC’s ‘Antiques Roadtrip’ and ‘Bargain Hunt’ made sure he spent time with winners of our prize draw on Facebook.  Among them was Teresa West with her antique clock.

Charles standing with some of the prize draw winners
Charles with some of the prize draw winners L to R Val Shenton, Pat Garner and Teresa West

“It belonged to my great-granddad and my mum learned to tell the time on it,” Teresa said.

“My granddad passed it down to my dad as he knew my dad would look after it.  He wound it up every day!

“I remember it chiming on the hour when I was growing up but it hasn’t done that for some years now, it needs a bit of TLC.

“Charles told us it was 140 years old which was a shock, and worth more than we thought.  We would never sell it but we will definitely be getting it repaired.”

The value of love

Val Shenton was another of our winners and took along her engagement ring for Charles to value.

“We had the ring made in 1969.  At the time it cost a week’s wages,” said Val.

“It has diamonds and sapphires and Charles told us it’s worth more than 40 times what it originally cost!  But, of course, it won’t be going anywhere.”

Medieval revelry!

Entertainment at our medieval-themed event also included the birds from Kingsley Falconry Centre, plus soldiers and the Merrie Din medieval musicians from Tutbury castle.

Charles high kicking with the Merrie Din players
Charles gets in the medieval spirit with the Merrie Din players

“It was a wonderful day of great local people and medieval revelry!” said Charles, who has valuation and auction rooms in Etwall in Derbyshire, London and an auction showroom at Bishton Hall near Stafford.

“In my world of antiques, Barrowhill Hall hits the heights, it’s a wonderful listed building.

“We had a great day celebrating the home’s history and its success.”

It was a return to the site for Charles, who opened Churnet Lodge three years ago.

“It was wonderful to see Charles here again,” said home manager, Matthew Whitfield.

“He brings such energy and everyone loved meeting him because of his warmth and his genuine interest in them and their items.

“It’s also great to open our doors to the community – and for me to get cooking on the barbecue!”

06

Sep

Uttoxeter walkers invited to stop in for tea

We were delighted to welcome members of Uttoxeter Walking Club recently, to stop by for tea and cake on one of their planned walks.

We’re lucky to enjoy a beautiful setting and we notice walkers coming close to the home on a regular basis.  So we invited the Uttoxeter group to come to have some refreshments that would keep them going on their route along the Limestone Way.

And they were delighted to accept.

As well as giving the walkers a chance to refuel, it was an opportunity for our residents to chat to new people and talk about the joys of walking.

Ramblers chatting to care home resident
Members of the group chat to former rambler, Maureen

Maureen in particular was a keen rambler.  She still enjoys a turn around the JCB lake and our gardens, but longer distances are a little beyond her now.

She loved talking to the walkers and posed for photographs out on our terrace overlooking the surrounding countryside.

Two women enjoying a dog's company
Resident Jenifer enjoys the company of the four-legged rambler!

There was even a four-legged rambler who joined in, and our residents are always thrilled to see canine company!

“We’re a key part of our community,” said home manager, Matthew Whitfield.

“As well as us going out into the local area we welcome people in.

“New faces and new experiences are really stimulating for our residents and we hope we added something to the ramblers’ walk, too.

“Plus, we make a great cup of tea!”

Are you a member of a group in our community that would like to visit our home?  Get in touch at enquiries@barrowhillhall.co.uk

 

 

29

Jul

Anna’s 89 mile charity ‘memory walk’ to celebrate beloved dad

Our friend Anna Milton Lewis has completed an 89 mile walk in memory of her dad.

Douglas, who spent 18 months living with us, loved the countryside of Staffordshire and Derbyshire.  He spent many happy years in the area, exploring with his wife, Mary.

Douglas passed away at the age of 89 in February of this year.

Anna planned the walk to raise £890 for The Alzheimer’s Society and to revisit the local spots her dad loved so much.

“As a young couple, Dad and Mum used to cycle all over,” remembered Anna. “He found this area very beautiful and has such lovely memories of particularly Dimmingsdale and Alton where he lived for a while.

Following memories

“I wanted this walk to connect the places in which he lived, loved, laughed and ultimately died.  I followed memories and stories told before vascular dementia took its toll.”

Anna with three staff members at Barrowhill Hall
Anna with some of our staff at Barrowhill Hall

Anna’s first stop was at Barrowhill Hall, 15 miles into her walk.  It was wonderful to see her and offer her a well-earned rest before she set off again.

“He loved the view from the home,” said Anna.  “He would sit with his binoculars and watch the birds, animals and admire the countryside.”

Anna’s route then took her through Alton, Oakamoor, Waterhouses, Bakewell, Chatsworth, Matlock and Carsington.

She completed her walk at the top of Thorpe Cloud with her mother and members of her family down below at Dovedale.

“I then decided to walk home from Dovedale as a personal challenge for myself,” said Anna.  “This was very very hard going (23miles!) but I walked in my kitchen door 120 miles after I had left it!”

Fabulous fundraising

She smashed her fundraising target by raising almost £2,500.

“My father loved being out in the countryside.  My hope is the money I raise will help people like him to continue to enjoy the benefits of the wonderful outdoors, where lost memories don’t matter because the distractions of the ‘here and now’ are just too great.”

29

Jul

Barrowhill Hall serves up tennis treat in time for Wimbledon

We ‘served up’ a treat of tennis on the lawn for our residents, in celebration of Wimbledon.

The grass court at the front of Barrowhill Hall was put to good use by members of Denstone Tennis Club.  Our residents enjoyed Pimms and strawberries while they watched the action.

Play is restored

The court, which hadn’t been used for a number of years, was made playable again thanks in part to Old Denstonian, Max Barker.

Max was a senior school boarder and a member of Woodard House at the College.  He stayed on in boarding after his A-Levels and spent time each weekday volunteering with us.

He gained valuable experience in support of his ambitions to study medicine.  And he also spent time working with the maintenance staff to re-instate the tennis court.

Head of Senior School at Denstone College, Nic Horan, was part of the Denstone Tennis Club’s men’s team.

“It’s been a great deal of fun to play up here,” he said, “especially knowing that one of our students had a role to play in making this possible.

“I don’t think we were able to offer the same quality of tennis as the professionals at Wimbledon but we were certainly entertaining!”

Two tennis players on the grass court in fron of Barrowhill Hall care and nursing home
Denstone Tennis Club get play underway on the newly restored court

New balls please!

Barrowhill Hall has had a tennis court since it was a private family home in the nineteenth century.

Because it has been little used in recent years it was in poor condition.  But now we want to see more clubs using it.

“We want to thank Denstone Tennis Club for coming to play,” said home manager, Matthew Whitfield.

“Now that the court is in good condition, we want to invite clubs in the community to come and use it.

“It’s a stunning spot to play a match and our residents love being so close to the action – it’s quite a different experience to sitting inside watching tennis on the television!”

04

Jun

Manager Matthew ‘chats’ over coffee

Readers of the Ashbourne News Telegraph will know a lot more about our manager, Matthew, after he appeared in the paper’s ‘Coffee Break’ section.

Matthew, who’s originally from Stafford, shared a little bit about his background and the legend behind Muddy Shoe day!

We learned about his extremely varied taste in music, from Bluegrass and folk to classical and heavy metal, and his love of food.

“The one thing I can never refuse is roast lamb!” he said.

Cutting from the Ashbourne News Telegraph featuring home manager, Matthew Whitfield
Manager Matthew shares a little about himself in the Ashbourne News Telegraph

He also shared how he came to work in the care sector.

“I went into this profession mainly because of Mum and how she always helped others,” Matthew said.  “She was a healthcare assistant at St George’s hospital in Stafford and she later cared for my dad.”

Matthew went on to train as a nurse, specialising in mental health.  He brings those skills to his role here and his passion now is to provide high quality care for people with dementia.

But he says he could do none of this without the support of his family.  As the youngest of four he is used to a busy household – and it’s a good job!

“I’ve been married to my wonderful wife, Kelly, for nearly two years now,” he said.  “I’ve got five children – Stephanie who’s 24, Isaac, 21, Lily is 11, Grace who’s three and one year old Ron.

“Plus I’ve got a two year old grand-daughter, Ivy.  They are my world.”

Look out for more of our team in the coming weeks.

22

May

Barrowhill Hall welcomes the Uttoxeter Lions

We were delighted to welcome members of Uttoxeter Lions Club into our home, after establishing a relationship that will help hundreds of local men to be screened for prostate cancer.

Barrowhill Hall is part-sponsoring a screening session on Thursday 6th June, the eve of the Lions’ Beer Festival.  The event is aimed at those aged 50 and over, and hopes to screen more than 700 men.

“With prostate cancer on the increase, the beer festival which funds the screening has become our biggest fundraiser,” said Lions member, Steve Shields.

“We are extremely grateful to all of the local businesses who support the screening but especially to Barrowhill Hall being one of the main sponsors alongside RBA Wealth Management and JCB.  Last year we screened 520 men, we have made provisions to screen 750 this year.”

We treated our Lions guests to a tour of our home and a special lunch.

“We are all extremely impressed with the facilities at Barrowhill Hall,” commented Steve.  “As soon as you walk in you receive a warm and positive welcome, its bright, very clean and has a lovely atmosphere.  The facilities are modern and its obvious a lot of thought and care has gone into the design aspects.  The views over JCB and rolling hills and simply stunning.”

The Uttoxeter Lions prostate screening session will take place on Thursday 6th June 6.00pm -8.30pm at Oldfield’s Sports and Social Club Ground on Springfield Road.

07

May

Staff share their love of caring as they celebrate more than 60 years’ service

Staff have shared their love of the care profession as they celebrate a combined total of more than 60 years’ service.

Five of our 78 strong team at Barrowhill Hall have worked here for more than 10 years, with housekeeper Christine Rigby chalking up 18 years of dedication and loyalty.

We are bucking the national trend which has seen care homes struggle to recruit and retain staff.

“I started in the laundry team here in 2001 after I was made redundant from Staffordshire Tableware,” remembered Christine.

“The management joked that I was ‘too chatty’ to work in laundry – they saw it as a talent that should be used to the benefit of the residents – so I became a cleaner where I could have more contact with the people living here.

“I’ve since taken qualifications in care and as head of housekeeping I know all the residents. You’ll often find me having a dance with someone when a singer is in, or stopping for a chat. I just love coming every day.”

Senior night care assistant, Sheila Thornley, have reached her 15th anniversary with us and senior care assistant, Andrew Docherty, has made 12 years.

“Care started out as a job for me but it’s become a career,” said Andrew. “I’ve had the opportunity to progress since I’ve been here, and that’s ongoing.

“It’s rewarding, the residents always make my day, and it’s a beautiful place to work – nothing compares to the view from up here!”

Head of Laundry, Rosie Naylor, is close behind them with 11 years’ service as is Christine’s daughter, Lucy Dale, a cleaner.

More than 10% of the staff at Barrowhill Hall have worked at the home for five years or more.

“We are extremely proud of our team and their dedication,” said Dion Meechan, Director of MOP Healthcare which owns Barrowhill Hall.

“The staff turnover rate for the adult residential care sector currently stands at around 27% so to be celebrating 13% of our staff being here for more than five years is quite something.

“We offer training and development opportunities to all of our staff, and everyone has a role in our residents’ care whether they work in the kitchens or as a registered nurse.”

The home also recognises effort and achievements in monthly staff awards.

“We hope those things help to make this a great place to work,” said Ashley, “but we also have a beautiful grade II listed home, as well as a modern unit for those in the earlier stages of dementia.  And we have the best view in Staffordshire.”

“It’s never boring here, every day is different,” said Christine. “I’m part of people’s lives and I love it. I plan to stay – I’ve already picked out my room!”

17

Dec

Santa brings festive fun to families at our Christmas fair!

Santa brought Christmas cheer to young and old when he came to see us on Sunday 9th December.

He took time out from his busy schedule to come to our Christmas fair.  We welcomed families and friends, some of whom drove nearly two hours to spend the afternoon with their loved ones.

Two year old girl with Santa and care home resident
Resident Peggy Hughes with Santa and two year old Amiyah

Two year old Amiyah, whose great-grandmother Sheila Walmsley lives in Churnet Lodge on the site, stole the hearts of many, together with eight month old ‘elf’, Ronnie.

Residents and visitors of every age enjoyed sitting with Santa, sharing their wishes for Christmas and enjoying mince pies.

“It was a fantastic afternoon, and a chance not just for families to get together but the community too,” said activities manager Karen O’Moore.

“We made some new friends in the community.  People from Rocester who didn’t know we were here came to join in.  It was great to introduce ourselves to them.

“We were thrilled to see the families of some of our residents who’ve passed away – they’re never forgotten and are always welcome – and one of our regular entertainers brought his family along.

“I think it says a lot about the home we have here.”

The Christmas fair also included craft and gift stalls hosted by local traders and volunteers from St Michael’s Church in Rocester.

Musical entertainment came from festive singers and the Alton Handbell Ringers.

The Shetland Lollipop ponies, which visit the home regularly offering calming interaction for residents, got into the Christmas spirit too with festive hats and tinsel bridles.

“My little visitor, Phoebe, was so taken with the ponies she asked me if she could have one for Christmas!” said Santa.

“I think she’d be much better off with a reindeer!”