Balhousie Care Group will recognise Dementia Awareness Week, June 3-10, with some key new initiatives, including the launch of dementia-friendly signage that has been more than a year in the making.
The award-winning firm, a leader in the field of dementia care, is also relaunching its care home menus, with many dishes aimed at people with dementia, and celebrating the opening of a dementia-friendly city centre garden.
The decision to revamp signs in the homes came about after Balhousie Care’s Dementia Nurse Consultant Yvonne Manson conducted research among residents which showed that current signage – which varied across all of Balhousie Care’s 25 homes – weren’t working for them.
“They were placed too high on a door or were not always clear. Our residents needed clear visuals and clear wording so as not to confuse them,” said Yvonne. Consultation workshops were held with residents at Balhousie Wheatlands care home in Bonnybridge, which was used as a test bed for the project. Residents told him they wanted pictures of actual rooms in the home – not generic pictures – and a streamlining of the words used.
“So for example a sign for a lounge at our Wheatlands care home now carries a picture of a chair from that lounge – a picture that is personal to that care home. The aim always with people with dementia is to reduce confusion, and reinforce a sense of memory and place, therefore reducing the risk of anxiety or distress. The placing of the signs is lower, at residents’ request, and we chose a bright yellow so that the signs really pop,” said Yvonne.
She added: “The sign project has worked very well at Wheatlands, and already been praised by the Care Inspectorate. We’re now rolling out the signs to all of our care homes and it’s our plan that they’ll be in all 25 homes by the end of the year.
Balhousie Care Group worked closely on the project with Glasgow-based company Visioncall, which creates eye care systems catered to care home residents’ needs.
Also launching next week is a dementia-friendly outdoor garden and putting green at Balhousie Clement Park care home in Dundee. The garden has a purple theme, which is the brand colour of Alzheimers Scotland, in recognition of the positive influence of the charity on Balhousie Care’s dementia practices.
The city centre care home had been under-utilising the garden. Knowing the benefits of the outdoors and exercise on physical and mental wellbeing, staff, residents and volunteers developed a multi-purpose garden and putting green in collaboration with the local Carse of Gowrie Men’s Shed.
Emma Roberts, Dementia Nurse Advisor for Balhousie Care Group, who headed up the project, said: “The garden was a real labour of love and ended up serving so many different purposes. It has provided a stimulating outdoor space for residents, and friendships and bonds were formed with the Men’s Shed volunteers, some of whom have members with dementia. It has helped residents and staff feel part of their local community, which is a primary purpose of all of our care homes.”
Eighty per cent of Balhousie Care Group’s 900 care home residents have dementia, which is why the relaunch of the group’s revamped menus had to address dementia directly. David Blackwood, Hospitality Services Manager at Balhousie Care, will introduce a raft of exciting new recipes next week at a Ready, Steady, Cook style event for chefs at Dundee & Angus College on June 4 and 5.
As with the signage and the garden, the first people consulted on the menu changes were the residents themselves. Tasting sessions were then held, allowing kitchen staff to cook up their ideas and present them to care home residents at a chosen few homes.
Among the highest scored dishes were Spicy Lasagne and Chicken Pakora with a spicy dip. “The general consensus among the public is that old people don’t like spicy food but in fact it’s the opposite,” said David, who added: “Our Come Dine With Us events are important because they’re involving the people who live here. You wouldn’t want to have zero input on what you eat in your own home, so why would you have no input in your care home? Plus, they’re a lot of fun, promoting positive experiences around food.”
Claire Docherty, Head of Operations at Balhousie Care Group, said: “With the vast majority of our residents having dementia or some form or cognitive impairment, we think it’s important that we not only follow good dementia practice at Balhousie Care Group, but are also trailblazers. More importantly, our residents are driving our ideas, and we think the results speak for themselves.”
Other events planned for Dementia Awareness Week include cheese and wine evenings, ‘Purple Parties’ and awareness-raising events for families and relatives.
For further information contact Gillian Drummond on
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