New specialist dementia care unit opens its doors in Gateshead

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New suites designed to increase the wellbeing of people with dementia and maintain their independence and life skills will officially open at Armstrong House on Thursday October 18.

The Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Malcolm Brain, will be joined by health and social care professionals from across the North East, along with residents and the team at the Bensham home, to open the new nursing and residential suites. The team will offer high level specialist dementia care to residents and advice and support to relatives and loved ones.

In the residential suites, the care and activities teams will help residents with dementia to carry on the hobbies and interests they love. They will also help people to remain independent and maintain their life skills and vocabulary by taking part in the day-to-day life and running of their home.

Manager Michelle Wilkinson said: “The new suites look beautiful. No two bedrooms are the same, and each of them contains personal items to create an image of the resident.

“Our Head Chef Dale Bramer, who is also a very talented artist, has recreated local scenes on the wall such as Saltwell Park, Whitley Bay and St Mary’s Lighthouse. Not only are they attractive but they also get people talking and reminiscing. This is so important for people with dementia, as it not only helps their cognitive abilities but also keeps up their language skills and allows carers to learn more about their personal life stories.

“We are committed to providing person-centred care, and the key to that is understanding a resident’s past as well as their likes and dislikes.”

The wall pictures also have carpet, sandpaper and other textures built in to them. Michelle said: “We also have rummage boxes that contain old fashioned items such as boot polish, shoe brushes, chamois leathers, wool, lace and other material. For those who are beginning to lose their speech, textures can be very stimulating or comforting.”

Maizie Mears-Owens, Care UK’s Head of Dementia Service, helped the Armstrong House team to develop the new suites. Maizie said: “Care UK is passionate about providing dementia care that helps residents and their relatives share time together in a stress-free environment.

“Part of the new suite is a vintage-style tearoom and we hope that families will be able to spend time there chatting about what they are up to, as well as remembering fun times they have shared.

“It can be difficult when a loved one has dementia. Communication can sometimes be difficult and relatives can be left feeling sad and frustrated. The team at Armstrong House are very dedicated and highly trained: they will be on hand to give advice and to work with relatives so that they can understand the condition and find new ways to communicate with their loved one.”



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