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!”

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.

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

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.”

17

Apr

Celebrity gardener joins us on Care Home Open Day

Join us for our open day on Saturday 21st April where you’ll have the opportunity to put your questions to pioneering organic gardener Bob Flowerdew.

The veteran panelist of Radio 4’s ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ will be with us for National Care Home Open Day.

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!

Win champagne!

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.

Bob Flowerdew will help us to redesign this space for our residents with dementia

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.

We look forward to seeing you!

22

Mar

“Pimp my Zimmer kids!”

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.

National project

‘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!”