Home Manager Jackie Cullip and Caring Homes Regional Manager Jeff Levine cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the new unit and are eager to welcome the first residents.
“It’s exciting for the team here, to be opening a new facility to help people live well with dementia,” said Jackie, who started as a Care Assistant at Firtree House over 15 years ago and has been Home Manager since 2012.
“My Care Team and I work with each resident to develop a personalised care plan, which caters for their specific needs and ensures that residents have choice and control over how their care is delivered. It isn’t one size fits all with any resident, but especially not for those people living with dementia.”
Approximately 22,000 people aged over 65 are estimated to have dementia in Kent so to support this growing demand, Firtree House has extended dementia care services and support to help people to live well with dementia.
Firtree House is part of Caring Homes Group, the only care home group with unique dementia training which is accredited by City and Guilds and honoured with the prestigious ‘Princess Royal Training’ award. We train every member of our team so residents, families and their careers, can be surrounded by personalised support. From our receptionists to our chefs, and carers to our nurses, the entire team receive our unique award-winning ‘My World’ dementia training.
The Celia Unit at Firtree House has been decorated and every bedroom has a memory box which can be filled with personal memorabilia. This helps residents living with dementia to recognise their room and can prompt conversations and reminiscence too. The unit also has contrast handrails and doors as well as special signage to enable people living with dementia to navigate easily around the home and improve independence. The detail concerning daily routines and activities will be added as the new residents move in and be centred around their needs.
“I am particularly passionate about getting to know residents and their families and feel that having a good understanding of each resident’s background is essential in building a relationship,” added Jackie.
“I encourage family involvement when possible, we give as much independence as we can and have a whole home approach to care. We’re conscious that people’s reality can be very different when they are living with dementia, so everything that makes up the living environment has been considered to create the Celia Unit which will support the residents’ condition and enable them to live well with dementia.”
Celia, whom the team at Firtree House decided to name the unit after, lived in Tunbridge Wells most of her life, raising a family of 8 children (7 boys and a girl). She was a resident at the Home for five years during which time her husband never missed a day visiting her and he was 97 himself. Celia had a passion for bingo and for playing the fruit machines. She also enjoyed singing which she would do every day at Firtree House, the louder the better.
One of Celia’s sons, Charlie, was also a resident at Firtree House for two years. Charlie was well known in Tunbridge Wells and was out in the town and visiting the library almost every day.
“I have spoken to Celia’s family who are very happy and touched by the gesture that we are going to call our unit after their mother. Celia was quite a character and was loved by the whole team here,” said Jackie.
“Her family wanted to add that Firtree House is an amazing place and they could not have wished for a better place for their mother and brother to have been cared for.”