19th June 2013

Home Places Care At Top For Elderly Residents

Did you brave the snow and ice to have a look round our brand new care home, Wetherby Manor? Some of my fellow councillors had been up to Barnard Castle to look at the home there when Wetherby Manor was still at the planning stage and they returned with glowing reports, so I was prepared for something out of the ordinary.

I was still bowled over by the interiors and, what to me was the most impressive feature, the warmth and friendliness of the staff and everyone involved with the home.

Like most of you, I have watched over the past couple of years as the 6o's-style Health Centre disappeared, together with the litter-strewn, weed-covered former allotments at the end of the pub car park.

In one of my first columns for this paper, I wrote about the photographs on the hoardings surrounding the site and wondered if the new building would come up to the same standard. I don't think anyone could argue that the actual building isn't a vast improvement on what was there before.

Not only that it fits in beautifully with its surroundings and, as someone commented at the official opening, it looks as though it has always been there. Just prior to the opening, I wondered how on earth they were going to turn the piles of mud surrounding the building into gardens - but they did and they look wonderful.

I just hope that our local litter louts will respect them and not lob their cans and other assorted rubbish over the wall, as they have grown accustomed to doing.

There is only one word for the interior of the Manor - superb! It would put many five-star hotels to shame. The layout, design, colours and fabrics are, in my opinion, absolutely wonderful. My pet hate in care homes I have visited in the past has been the fact that the lounges are full of an assortment of chairs all lined up round the walls with a TV blaring out in one corner, with Health and Safety being cited as the reason for such a soul-destroying arrangement.

This is obviously not the case, because at Wetherby Manor, the chairs and sofas are arranged in groups around coffee tables, making it much easier for the residents to sit with friends and hold conversations. The dining rooms have small tables with proper place settings and, something which gladdened my heart, real fabric napkins.

In short, the residents are treated in the same way as respected guests in a hotel, not useless old people who have been put into a home to die. I found the facilities for residents with dementia and memory impairment fascinating.

A huge amount of thought and research must have gone into them. I particularly loved the baskets of teddies and rag dolls in the lounge area. It's strange, isn't it, how comforting people with dementia find that sort of thing? My mother suffered with memory impairment after she was knocked down in her eighties and I always found it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that she had no idea who I was.

When I realised that the problem was that she no longer knew who she was, it helped a little, but it is still a very distressing time for family members.

At least in Wetherby Manor, residents will get all the help they need to live a rewarding and, hopefully, a happy life. What scares me about going into a home is how on earth do you fit a long life into one room? How do you decide what small amount of possessions go with you and what is given away or sold?

Many years ago, I went to one of the auction sales in Boston Spa Village Hall and on this particular occasion, it was a sale of the goods and chattels of an elderly doctor who had died without any family. The whole of his life was laid out on tables for people to paw over - even down to his hairbrushes and toilet articles.

I found it immensely sad and couldn't stay. Looking at it another way, are we too attached to possessions and would it be liberating to get rid of most of them and start a new life? Quite a scary prospect when you are in your eighties, I think. The location of Wetherby Manor couldn't be better - right in the middle of the town within easy access of all the facilities.

I know that the Manager, Denise Stephenson, is anxious that the residents feel part of the town and get involved with activities if they are able to do so. I am sure they will get lots of opportunities. Well, after that glowing report, are you off to book your room?

Cindy Bentley
Wetherby Life
Courtesy of Ackrill Media Group


Back to news