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!”

 

17

Dec

Rocester school pupils share the joy of reading

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.

Zara Jackson reads to 82 year old Doreen Bell
Zara Jackson reads to 82 year old Doreen Bell

“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.”

21

Sep

Staff climb Mt Snowdon for families living with dementia

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.

Ann and Michele enjoying the climb
Ann and Michele enjoying the climb

“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.”

The team is hoping to raise £500 for the Alzheimer’s Society. To donate to their fundraising page visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/barrowhill-hall-dementia-care-home

10

Aug

“My nursing staff saved my life!”

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.”

Martin is now planning a fundraising challenge for the British Heart Foundation.

“The charity has been a great source of support,” he said, “especially in coming to terms with the fact it was me this time – you always think these things happen to someone else.

“I want everyone to be aware of their heart health – you might think you don’t have the time because you’re caring for other people but you won’t be able to do that at all if the worst happens.”

25

Apr

Dementia-friendly garden design planned by Bob Flowerdew

Celebrity gardener and favourite of Radio 4’s ‘Gardeners’ Question Time, Bob Flowerdew, has pledged to create a dementia-friendly garden design for our residents.

Mr Flowerdew was the special guest at our celebrations for National Care Home Open Day on Saturday 21st April.

He chatted to visitors and answered their gardening questions as well as admiring and photographing the spectacular views.

National Care Home Open Day is an annual event that gives people the chance to visit their local care home.

Linking communities

This year’s theme was ‘linking communities’ and we certainly did that!  We welcomed Kinglsey Bird and Falconry Centre, Bamford Engine and Machinery Group, St Michael’s Church in Rocester, Tesco’s in Uttoxeter and the 22nd Signal Regiment from MOD Stafford.

Mr Flowerdew well-understands the needs of people with dementia.  His mother Pam lived with the condition for several years.

“She loved to sit in the garden,” he said.  “She wasn’t able to communicate very much in the later stages but she always seemed happier being able to see flowers around her.

The scent of lavender

“Scent was very stimulating for her.  The smell of bacon cooking brought out a single memory of “Dad’s shop” when she hadn’t spoken for close to a year so I’m planning to use lots of scented plants at Barrowhill Hall.

“Beds of old fashioned lavender will give a wonderful smell and colour.  It’s a safer plant than roses whose thorns can be a danger.

“I’ll also be thinking about seating and building in raised beds so residents can do planting without having to bend down.

Our care quality manager, Geoff Aris, said; “We would like to thank Mr Flowerdew, and all of those community groups and volunteers who made the Day such a success.

“It’s very important to us to make sure Barrowhill Hall, and all of our residents, are still very much part of their community.

“And with a beautiful, tailored garden design to look forward to we hope to welcome more local people to enjoy our home.”