“It means a lot to know the Prince I met is now King” says care home resident, Gillyann, 86  


(Gillyann’s story as seen in the Uttoxeter Echo and Burton Mail.)


The Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla was an exciting time for residents at a Rocester care home but for Gillyann Prince it brought back memories of a personal invitation from the then Prince of Wales.


Firm royalist, Gillyann, 86, from Barrowhill Hall residential and nursing home was invited with her husband to visit King Charles III in 1994 at his private residence in Highgrove, Gloucestershire.


His Majesty extended the invitation as a thank you to them both for letting him hunt on their land when they lived on a farm in Norbury. “It was a wonderful day.” she says, “and it means a lot to me to know the Prince I met is now the King.”


Gillyann watched the King’s Coronation in her room at Barrowhill Hall with her granddaughter, Victoria, festooned with Union Jacks, it echoed memories of the “excitement” of watching Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation as 16-year-old.


“I loved it!” she says, “I didn’t have a favourite part, I enjoyed watching the whole ceremony.”


Gillyann’s affection for the Royal Family began in her teens when she queued for more than six hours to pay her respects to King George VI.  She was one of the 305,806 people who went to Westminster Hall in 1952 for his lying.

Then 13 years later, she was thrilled to be invited to Buckingham Palace for the 50th anniversary of the Women’s Institute. The King wasn’t in attendance, but she did meet the Duchess of Gloucester.


Barrowhill Hall, a 74-bedroom home specializing in caring for those living with dementia and memory loss, went all out with their festivities to mark the Coronation. Staff, residents and their friends and families enjoyed decorations, themed games (such as ‘Pin the Diamond on the Crown’), an all-day buffet and Coronation cakes, and entertainment from singer Paulo who had everyone singing and dancing.


Care home manager, Dania Meadows, says, “The Coronation meant a lot to our residents. The staff worked so hard to make it really special for them and their families.


“We put a lot of effort into understanding our residents, their personal histories and what they love, so we knew Gillyann in particular loved the Royal family.  It was very exciting for us to know that one of our residents met King Charles in person. It’s incredible to be able to see a photograph of the exact moment.”


Activities lead, Sally-Ann Davis was amongst those who managed the arrangements. “We all came together as a team to make it an enjoyable event for our residents,” she says, “and it was worth it.


“Everyone’s eyes were glued to the television during the ceremony. The atmosphere was amazing and we were all in great spirits.”



Rocester care home praised for ‘competent and compassionate’ staff in CQC report

Staff at a care home in Rocester, Uttoxeter, on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border have been praised for being ‘competent and compassionate’ in a new report by healthcare inspectors.

Barrowhill Hall, a 74-bed residential and nursing home, which specializes in caring for those living with dementia and memory loss, has been rated ‘good’ following a visit from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in December 2022.

Within the report the staff and team were commended on supporting residents to have ‘maximum choice and control of their lives’ and for offering support to residents ‘in the least restrictive way possible and in their best interests’. The report also states that the team had created a ‘person-centered culture’ and that relatives ‘felt included in the service’.

Recent reviews on carehome.co.uk support the CQC report with glowing praise for Barrowhill Hall and its staff.

One review from Charles, whose mother is a resident at Barrowhill Hall, says, “I can sincerely say that both the care and facilities at Barrowhill Hall are simply outstanding. The care and love they show my mother is first-class. The accommodation is fabulous, and the food is divine with lots of choices. The home is impeccably spotless, airy, warm, cheerful, in fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a staff member not smiling.

“I can’t express how grateful we are as a family that we found Barrowhill Hall and just how well Mother has settled here.”

Home manager, Dania Meadows, who joined Barrowhill Hall in September 2022, says,

“I’m really proud of my team, they are so caring. This report reflects how compassionate and dedicated they are to providing the best quality of personalized care for each and every one of our residents.

“Since I’ve started here at Barrowhill Hall, all the staff have worked incredibly hard to enhance the care that we provide and we are all committed to continuing to improve our service for our residents.

“Everyone has an important role to play in keeping our residents healthy and happy and we work together, as a team.”

Dania is a Registered Mental Health Nurse and brings vast experience in managing large care homes within the Staffordshire area to her role.

The CQC report credits her as a ‘confident and inclusive’ manager who supports staff and it highlights improvements to the service that have been recognized by staff, relatives and visiting professionals.

Care assistant, Imogen Hudson, 24, joined the home in May last year and has enjoyed working with the team and caring for the residents since day one. “This job is really challenging but the residents are like family members and looking after them is really rewarding,” she says.

“We are a great team of people and we’re really close. We all work so hard to care for the residents and I think that bonds us.”

Registered nurse, Laura Collins, 26, initially started working at Barrowhill Hall as a care assistant to fund her teaching degree. The home and residents captured her heart so much she retrained as a mental health nurse at Derby University and once qualified, returned to continue caring for the residents who inspired her ambition.

She says, “Day to day I always feel like I’m looking after multiple grans and grandads. I never want to rush around from room to room, I like to spend time with each resident and I love seeing them smile. I love the feeling I get when I go home and I know I’ve given my all to look after someone.”



Cuban army was “best training” for care says our care home manager

Dania Meadows, joined our home in November 2022 and she credits her experience in the Cuban army as the reason she is so protective of her residents.

Born in Havana, Dania joined the Cuban army aged 19, becoming a sergeant and working in the special communication division.

“I loved the army,” she says. “I was there for four years. I learnt to fire an AK-47 and I won awards as my aim was very good.”

Dania has worked in the care sector for over twenty years and has managed large care homes within Staffordshire, but it was her time in the military which taught her essential skills in how to be a good care home manager.

“The army was a different mentality,” she explains. “It gave me a real sense of purpose and duty, the passion to do good for others and to put others before yourself. I definitely brought that with me to the care sector. There’s something in me, a sense of justice that runs deep within my principles to safeguard residents and to protect others.

“The army taught me self-discipline, resilience and commitment and I use those skills every day as a care home manager. I like inspirational leadership. I love to inspire others and it’s important to work with people and respect them. I’m always smiling and I’m very approachable but I’m also very serious about resident care.”

Dania came to the UK in 2002 and worked as a glass collector in a pub before finding a job as a care assistant and helping people living with dementia. She says;

“I loved it! I knew immediately I wanted to work in the care sector and that I wanted to be a nurse. I went to university and I worked every weekend as a care assistant to fund my degree. I was teaching myself English at the time and for the first six months I went to all my classes with a dictionary!”

Straight after her training Dania was offered a role as a deputy manager at a care home.

“I couldn’t believe it at the time,” she says. “I went straight from being a student nurse into a deputy manager role. I knew it was unusual, but they said they saw something in me. I was over the moon and I haven’t looked back!”

Barrowhill Hall has recently been rated ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission and the report credits Dania for being a ‘confident and inclusive’ manager who supports staff.

Care assistant, Naomi Austin, 20, says, “It’s been amazing having Dania start as a manager here, she is a huge credit to our home and she has done so much for us all already.”

Our front of house and management support, Sherilee McConnon, 32, says, “We’re really grateful to Dania for helping us to get great results here. She’s a fantastic leader and we’ve learnt so much from her already. I don’t think she’ll be teaching us how to fire an AK-47 but she has said she’ll take us all salsa dancing!”



“Care work is challenging but rewarding” says 24-year-old carer

Our dedicated care assistant, Imogen Hudson, 24, says people should consider care work as a career choice and regularly recommends care sector work to others.

When she joined, with five years of care experience having previously worked within community care and within different care homes, she knew Barrowhill Hall was a great fit for her.

“I enjoyed it here from the first day”, she says. “It’s a big home and I love the variety of work here and the great team of people.

“You end up getting really close to the other carers and workers. It’s really challenging but the residents are like family members and looking after them is really rewarding.

“We all work so hard to care for them and I think that bonds us.”

Imogen feels young people may overlook care work when they are trying to choose a career, just like she did initially.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school,” she explains, “I was studying childcare and then I did hair and beauty. Care work was recommended to me and that’s how I got into it at 18.

“Now I always recommend it to others. I think it’s a career that a lot of people might not consider, but they should!”

Our care home manager, Dania Meadows, says,

“It’s brilliant to see young people in care roles and we would love to have more on our team. They always create a strong bond with the residents, I think there’s something around them having had a more recent relationship with grandparents. Our residents certainly love them!

“I’m very committed to all the staff here and if they want to progress, we will help them. This doesn’t just have to be a job, it can be a career, there’s no end to where it could lead.”

Imogen is one of the staff members keen to progress in her role.

“I love that you can learn on the job. When I started working in care, I did my training and my Level 2 NVQ and it took about 8 months,” she recalls. “Now I want to be a senior carer and Barrowhill Hall really encourages and supports that, so they will pay for me to do my Level 3 NVQ.

“There’s always more to learn but luckily there is always someone to learn from and someone who is willing to help!”

Despite there being several elements to the job that Imogen enjoys, she credits the residents as the main reason she loves her job as much as she does.

“I’m a very caring person by nature and you need that to last in the job. Working with dementia can be challenging, but when you’re given all the training it’s easier to understand from the residents’ point of view.

“I love all the residents and they are all different. A lot of them won’t remember you but you know that they trust you and it’s a really important job.”



“I always knew I would end up back here” says newly qualified nurse Laura

Laura Collins, 26, has achieved her dream of becoming a registered nurse and has returned to our home to care for the residents who inspired her ambition.

Laura initially worked at Barrowhill Hall as a care assistant to fund her studies in teaching but whilst working for us care captured her heart and she decided to retrain. Having just completed a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Nursing at Derby University she is now back with us at Barrowhill Hall!

“There’s something about Barrowhill Hall, that draws you back,” she explains. “It’s hard to say exactly what it is, but it’s like a second home to me. I always knew I would end up back here.”

Of her new role Laura says, “I love being a mental health nurse! I love having more responsibility, looking after people physically and mentally and being able to apply what I’ve learnt on my course to my work. We trained a lot in dementia care and my dissertation was about the benefits of non-medical interventions in supporting people living with dementia.”

“I love how Barrowhill Hall incorporates a lot of therapy activity such as pet therapy, singing and entertainment for the residents. You can see first-hand how it benefits them. Their mood lifts, they’ll remember song lyrics and therapies can relax and calm them too.

At age 19, she was set on a career in education and began working at our home to fund her teaching degree. Laura says, “It’s probably quite an unusual role to go into whilst studying at uni, but one of my friends was working there and told me there was a job going.

“I didn’t know what to expect or if I was going to like it, but I settled in quickly with all the support and training. I loved the feeling I got when I went home and I knew I’d given my all to look after someone.”

Over the next two years Laura had finished her education degree, taken a full-time role at our home and progressed to the role of senior carer. It was during this time she realised teaching was no longer for her. “Working as a senior carer made me realise what I was meant to do in life,” She explains, “I knew that instead of going back to do a final year of education training I wanted to train to become a nurse.”

Laura had already completed her pharmacy training and a Level 2 Safe Medication course on the job and was writing personalised care plans for residents in Churnet Lodge, our specialist household for people living with young onset dementia.

Clinical lead nurse, Sky Moyo, is amongst those pleased to welcome Laura back.

“Laura is an asset to our team and an inspiration to others, we’re delighted to have her with us again. We always encourage our team to progress and she’s an incredible example of how it’s possible to build a solid career within the care sector.

“The staff are the heartbeat of a care home and Laura has a lot to offer with her mental health training and her interest in holistic therapies for residents living with dementia. We know our residents will benefit from her return to us and we are all excited to see what she brings to her new role.”

When reflecting on the care sector Laura knows she can make a difference especially with end of life and palliative care.

“It’s emotionally challenging at times but it’s rewarding to know that you have made someone’s last days as nice and as comfortable as possible. Even though it can be a hard thing to do, it’s really rewarding to give someone a nice end to their life. That’s important.

“Day to day I always feel like I’m looking after multiple grans and grandads. I never want to rush around from room to room, I like to spend time with each resident and I love seeing them smile. I just enjoy helping people and I 100% recommend care as a career!”



Our care home keeps car-mad Barry’s memories fresh with the smell of engine oil and car polish

Memories of maintaining milk trucks at the North Staffs Dairy are being kept alive for our resident, Barry Webb, 83, thanks to a specialist kit to help him reminisce.

Barry is transported back to his years as a mechanic at the Cooperative dairy in Sneyd Green in the 1980s with a ‘Scentscape’.

Designed to recreate the smells of Barry’s career the kit includes scents of engine oil, sawdust and car polish. It even includes a soundtrack which plays sound effects of someone working on a car engine.

A photograph of the Cooperative dairy hangs in Barry’s room at Barrowhill Hall and our team researched Barry’s life story with him and his family and discovered his love of vehicles went back even further.

Prior to working at the dairy he spent his days working with his dad, who owned a mechanic business repairing and servicing cars.

Barry’s son, Andrew, says, “Dad loves cars! He loved working with them and fixing them. He used to love visiting any scrap yard he could find and his favourite car was a Saab. It’s brilliant the staff at Barrowhill Hall are able to bring so much joy to him by recreating his memories through his favourite smells.”

The combination of using smell and sound together, gives Barry access to memories that may otherwise be difficult to reach.

Ruth Hoult, activities coordinator at the home explains,

“Smell is very evocative and it can be used to evoke memories, which is great for our residents living with dementia and memory loss. As well as recalling memories, sensory experiences help to improve communication as it encourages conversation. Smell can also create a warm feeling of familiarity for our residents and that can be very comforting.

“We always want to support our residents with their hobbies. We know Barry loves cars and so this sensory kit is perfect for him. When he uses it, it really brings his memories of fixing and working on cars to life. It certainly got him talking about car mechanics!”

When Barry uses the sensory kit he says, “I love the smell of engine oil and car polish!” He talks about his time as a mechanic and he tells the staff and other residents how to maintain their cars.

Ruth says, “It’s great hearing Barry’s stories and on a practical note I now know how to fix my car if I get an oil leak!”



Ex-professional footballer still enjoys a kick about with residents

Paul Williams, 79, lives with us at Barrowhill Hall and our staff were impressed to learn that in his younger days he’d had a short spell as a professional footballer for Shrewsbury Town!

Paul ended his short time with Shrewsbury Town to become a civil servant but when he later moved to Uttoxeter, his passion for football found him back on the pitch. He played centre forward, this time at amateur level, for Uttoxeter All Stars and Uttoxeter Amateurs and he continued to play for both teams for over five years.

Paul’s two sons Mark and Darren Williams used to watch him play his Sunday matches.

Mark says, “Dad loves football, it’s been a huge part of his life both as a player and as a fan.”

Darren says, “He used to love going to watch games – his passion is Hereford United.  He went to most home games and he has a framed shirt signed by the team hanging in his room at Barrowhill Hall.

“While he can no longer go to the matches the home makes an effort to put football games on the TV for him.”

Whilst Paul may have swapped the stadiums for the residents’ lounge, Ruth Hoult our activities coordinator, makes sure football is one of the activities Paul can enjoy with his fellow residents.

She says,

“The thing I love about my job is making sure the residents are happy and can continue to do what they love. We get to know all our residents as individuals and we find out what they enjoy doing and also what they don’t like!

“Paul is not as mobile as he’d like to be these days, but we play seated games.  It keeps him connected to what he loves.”

Maintaining skills and hobbies, like football, is beneficial for residents’ mental health, from improving confidence, self-esteem and cognition to supporting social interaction, general happiness and improved mood. However, the physical benefits are also equally important. Sports and exercise for residents living with dementia improves strength, maintains strong muscles and flexible joints as well as improving cardiovascular health.

Our care home manager Dania Meadows says,

“The main thing for residents is stimulation and our activities team here work tirelessly to provide that, in a whole range of ways. Our games are a lot of fun but most importantly they maintain the health and wellbeing of our residents.

“Our resident’s lives should be full of meaning and purpose and we help to make that happen by ensuring the things that are important to them, are important to us.”



Our gardener creates a dementia-friendly garden

Jack Beddows has been the head gardener here at Barrowhill Hall for over four years. Our home has a large garden, which he has evolved whilst keeping the residents at the heart of all his garden planning and decisions.

Three years ago Bob Flowerdew, from Radio 4’s ‘Gardeners’ Question Time was a special guest at our home, where plans for a dementia-friendly garden were discussed. With hard work and dedication and despite delays due to COVID and lockdown, Jack has brought the plans to fruition.

He has created a dementia-friendly garden and is always “inspired” by the care home’s residents.

He says,

“For me, having a dementia-friendly garden is all about making it a sensory space, which positively impacts the residents. I make sure everything we do in the garden is tailored to their needs. I prioritise scents, bright colours and textures and we use a lot of very tactile plants, which the residents get a lot of enjoyment from.

“A great part of my job is chatting to the residents, they love a chat! They’ll ask me the names of the different plants and they let me know the garden is looking nice.”

Jack uses foliage with powerful aromas including Lavender plants, Rosemary bushes and Bay trees, which is the most appealing thing about the garden for resident Joan Gough, 79.

She says, “I love looking at and smelling the flowers, it brings back memories of my own garden.”

Jack makes the garden inviting, inclusive and accessible. He explains, “We have wide flat paths for easy access, outdoor seating and social areas and I use raised beds and hanging baskets to give our residents better access to the flowers without having to bend down.

“I always prioritise the flowers beds next to the home’s windows and these beds have also been extended so the residents can enjoy the garden as much from indoors as outdoors. I make sure the hedges and trees are trimmed so the residents and visitors can enjoy the extensive views across the countryside.”

Resident Diann Boden, 73, likes walking in the garden and makes the most of the outdoor seating, she says, “I enjoy sitting on this bench because I love looking at the beautiful views over the fields.”

Val Barnes, activities coordinator at Churnet Lodge, the home’s specialist household for those living with young onset dementia says, “Being younger, a lot of our residents have different needs to the main house and are very mobile, so the garden is a space we utilise a lot. We play games out there, our residents help with the gardening and plant bulbs, it’s also the inspiration for a lot of our art and craft sessions!

“There’s a lot for our residents to look at, they enjoy watching the birds on the bird feeders and we have the cows which come up to the perimeter fence. The dementia-friendly garden is also a very peaceful place and being able to touch the leaves gives our residents a physical connection with nature, which is very calming and grounding.”

Jack says, “Although I’m the gardener here our garden is certainly a joint effort with lots of people getting involved. It’s very rewarding to know it brings so much joy to the residents.”



Robotic pets bring ‘comfort and happiness’ to our residents

Our home has two communal robotic dogs and one robotic cat and our residents enjoy the calming effects of stroking the ‘animals’.

The life-size pets include a sensor which allows them to move in response to our residents’ voices, and the cats purr and meow and just like real cats.

For nursing resident Richard Rogers, 71, known as Kev, the robotic pets bring a lot of happiness to his daily life.

“Kev is bed bound so it’s really nice to be able to sit the robotic animals on his bed with him, they bring him a lot of comfort,” says his wife Bev Rogers, “he does joke about them not being real, but he’ll still strokes them and it’s very therapeutic for him.”

Ruth Hoult our activities coordinator has seen the special bond that residents form with the robotic pets and the benefits they bring. She explains;

“Most of our residents here at the home live with dementia and we’ve found over the years that animals promote a very calm and relaxing atmosphere.

“These robotic pets are a lovely substitute for the pet therapy animals and they have a very positive impact on our residents’ day-to-day wellbeing. They bring a lot of happiness to our home.”

Pet therapy has been proven to have many long-term health and wellbeing benefits for older people, such as reducing anxiety and helping to lift their mood.

Another benefit of the robotic pets, particularly for people who are living with dementia, is that they are less likely to behave unpredictably, allowing people to relax. They provide company and residents can enjoy a sense of independence in ‘taking care’ of the animals as if they were their own pets.

Resident Patricia Clegg, age 88, was bought a robotic cat for her birthday by her daughter Louise Forsyth and she named him Toby. Ruth says, “Patricia really loves Toby, when he’s with her he calms her and she holds him almost like a baby, she’s very nurturing with him.”

Our care home manager Dania Meadows says,

“The main thing for residents is stimulation and the robotic pets help hugely with this. They help to keep their minds focused. Like real pets, they can be stroked, cuddled and pampered. Many of the residents talk to the dogs and cats and take responsibility for them, which helps them to feel a sense of ownership and purpose.”

“We all love our robotic dogs and cats and better still they are very easy to look after!”



Families applaud Barrowhill Hall’s “brilliant job” during lockdown

Kaz Williams’ dad, Jim Simnett, has lived with us for 18 months, while Wendy Burton’s husband, Ian, moved into the home’s Churnet Lodge household four years ago because of his young onset dementia.

“Dad really settled into Barrowhill Hall after we tried a couple of places nearer to home,” said Kaz, who lives in Stapenhill in Burton on Trent.

Jim looks at cards and photos from his family
Jim with cards and photos from his family

“He’s very happy here.  He loves to sit in the lounge in front of the fireplace and put his feet up.

“I can’t fault the staff.  They are doing a brilliant job.  I’d love to be able to touch him and hug him but I know that’s not possible at the moment.”

Kaz, her two sisters and her mum, used to visit two or three times a week.  Their children and Jim’s grandchildren did, too.

They now visit weekly at the window or, when it’s permitted, in a chalet that’s been installed in the garden.  This is where families can sit with their loved ones at a safe distance and wearing masks.

“We’re not sure how much he realises what’s going on,” said Kaz, “but the first time I saw him in the family chalet, he said to me, “Where have you been?”  That’s the most he’s said to me in ages!”

Reassuring care offers Wendy a chance to rest

Wendy used to regularly make a 42-mile round trip from her home in Derbyshire to visit husband, Ian.  Much as she misses him, the lockdown has been a chance for her to have a break.

“The whole situation has only been concerning in that it’s out of my control.  But, I feel really confident in him being at Churnet Lodge,” she said.

“I know I can call at any time to see how he is and we get weekly updates every Wednesday.  Our daughters and I went to see him a while ago in the chalet.  Although we were wearing masks, he knew who we were, even though he can’t speak to us anymore.

“He put our coffee cups together, which was really romantic, and he sat with us for maybe half an hour.  He usually wants to walk all the time.  He looked so well, it was wonderful to see him.”

Churnet Lodge offers care for those living with early on-set dementia and memory loss.  Our main building, Barrowhill Hall, offers both residential and nursing dementia care.

Keeping residents and families in contact

Our families have access to a private Facebook group where staff can share photos and information.  Home manager, Matthew Whitfield, holds monthly meetings for families via Zoom so they can share any questions or concerns.

“I’m always available at the end of the phone should a family member want to speak to me,” he said.

“We keep them in touch with their loved ones as much as possible.  We know it’s not the same as being able to hold their hand.  Their patience and understanding has been amazing and we would like to thank them for that.”

Recent research suggests confidence among the public to move a relative into residential care has fallen during the pandemic.  Around a third of respondents are now less likely to seek a place for their loved one.

Confident to come into care

Sharon Farnell’s mum, Eileen, has lived at Barrowhill Hall for just over a year.  She said people should have confidence in choosing to move a relative in.

“I would like to be able to see Mum more but I know the staff are trying to keep her and all the other residents safe.

“I’ve recommended Barrowhill Hall to a number of friends,” she said.  “They are getting to a point where their relative needs care and I don’t want them to be put off by the pandemic.”