Balhousie Wheatlands, the popular care home in Bonnybridge, is going from strength to strength with the announcement of a 22-bedroom extension, an award-winning outdoors project, and national media coverage.

The Stirlingshire care home, part of the award-winning Balhousie Care Group, has had planning permission granted for £3.1m extension which will include 22 more bedrooms, two residents’ lounges, a kitchen re-fit, new laundry facility and new outdoor space. The work is expected to take 12 months.

The decision to add more bedrooms follows high public demand and a long waiting list for Balhousie Wheatlands, which is the only care home in its region and in Balhousie Care Group to hold the Care Inspectorate’s top rating of Grade 6.

Jill Kerr, Group Chief Executive Officer at Balhousie Care Group, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Balhousie Wheatlands and the local community by providing these much-needed bed spaces and facilities. The extension is part of a £10m capital investment commitment by Balhousie Care Group, which will include another home extension and work on a brand new facility in Dundee.”

A unique outdoors project which Wheatlands has been involved in for the last two years was recently named a winner in Scotland’s Dementia Awards. Organised by Forestry and Land Scotland in partnership with Balhousie Wheatlands, Alzheimer’s Scotland and NHS Forth Valley, it was named Best Dementia Friendly Community Initiative for encouraging care home residents to take part in woodlands activities.

The care home has been using the same woodlands initiative to work towards a Natural Health Award. Originally intended for child minders to use with children, the award demonstrates the ways in which care home residents can enrich their lives using nature as a focus, says Grace Sloan, Care Home Manager at Balhousie Wheatlands.

Grace added: “Because of the focus on physical and mental wellbeing, we saw no reason why the award couldn’t be adapted for older adults in our care. The most recent Natural Health Award activities have included building birdhouses that residents painted. The effects on the residents are striking with residents taking part clearly focused, smiling and enjoying the whole experience.”

Balhousie Wheatlands’ focus on outdoor activities will be featured in the Autumn issue of Living Well, the magazine of the National Activity Providers Association following a visit to the home by writer and lecturer Marion Shoard. A specialist in older people, Marion is the author of the book How to Handle Later Life. Next month [November] she will present a paper on ways to involve care home residents with the outdoors, including Wheatlands, at a Methodist Homes for the Aged research seminar in Manchester.

Marion said: “I was very impressed by the steps Grace Sloan and her staff take to encourage residents at Balhousie Wheatlands to enjoy the home’s grounds, the local town as well as sites further afield, while unobtrusively ensuring they are safe while doing so. Residents clearly get great enjoyment from going outside.”

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Media contact: Gillian Drummond, 01738 254254 or