Residents, guests, healthcare professionals and town mayors all mingled with Secretary of State for Health and South West Surrey MP the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt during a Dignity Day held at Care UK’s Broadwater Lodge care home.
Mr Hunt was among around 60 invited guests to the event at the home in Summers Road, Farncombe on Friday, 8 March.
Visitors took part in a series of workshops and talks with Care UK specialists in dementia care as well as mental health professionals and carers, all with the focus on ensuring that promoting dignity is at the forefront of care.
After a tour of the home and meeting residents, Mr Hunt paid tribute to the commitment of care home teams and to the vital role that communities play in supporting homes, and people living with dementia.
He said: “The central challenge to us today is how do we cope with an ageing society? Do we make getting old something we look forward to, or something we dread and worry about?
“Dementia is something we have to do much better, we diagnose only half the cases of dementia. There is a lack of knowledge about it and it is like cancer in the 1960s that people didn’t want to talk about. But if we can tackle that, then we can make some great changes in society.”
Amongst the residents and their relatives that Mr Hunt spent time with was Len Clark, whose wife Isobel lives at Broadwater Lodge. In a speech to the visitors, Mr Clark said although the decision for Isobel to move into a care home was difficult one, he had seen first-hand the difference that dedicated carers can make.
“Something I have learnt is that there is a difference between being a carer and being a caring person, and the people here are caring people,” he said.
“This is a happy ship and the mood of the place is very good.”
Maizie Mears-Owen, Care UK’s head of dementia care, led a series of workshops featuring Care UK’s experiential training programme, which helps people understand the challenges faced by people living with dementia.
The Mayors of Waverley, Godalming and Guildford all took part in the workshops, donning goggles to mask their vision and gloves to restrict hand movements, before being asked to try tasks such as pouring tea or looking up a telephone number to make a call.
Deirdre Timney, Care UK’s lead on activity based care, also led workshops to help those who care for a loved one at home.
Angela Bookham, manager at Broadwater Lodge, said: “We were delighted to welcome so many people to Broadwater Lodge. Putting the focus on dignity in care is so important to us and it was fantastic to meet so many people who share that focus.
“The residents and their families were so pleased that Mr Hunt took the time to tour the home, meet them and see what happens in a care home every day.
“The Dignity Day wasn’t just about one special event – it was about recognising the work that happens every day to ensure residents are living fulfilled lives in a happy and interesting environment.”