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Double dementia care awards honours for Abbeyfield & Wesley

Alice Brush, Deputy Manager, and Margaret Brown, Senior Care Assistant, Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association with the Best Dementia Garden Award at the National Dementia Care Awards. Also pictured are former Emmerdale actor John Middleton and Jason Corrigan-Charlesworth of Barchester Healthcare, award sponsor.

Less than a few months after its official opening, Palmerston Residential Care Home in Belfast has scooped two prestigious Dementia Care awards for its Magical Memory Garden.

Abbeyfield & Wesley won the Best Dementia Garden category at the recent National Dementia Care Awards at Doncaster Racecourse in Yorkshire and the Dementia Innovation category at the Alzheimer’s Society NI Dementia Friendly Awards at Europa Hotel, Belfast.

The garden is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and features a number of reminiscence areas. Palmerston residents and visitors to the garden can relax at the on-site caravan or car enthusiasts can spend time in the car port. There is also a large garden shed which is home to the Men in Sheds project, and a dedicated pet’s corner with rabbits and chickens that provides the opportunity to care for animals. Finally, if quiet escape is the preference, the Secret Garden provides a serene, secluded space for reflection.

Geraldine Gilpin, Chief Executive of Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association, which owns and manages Palmerston Care Home, welcomed the awards.“We are thrilled that the Magical Memory Garden has been recognised at these award ceremonies which are designed to promote best practice in the field of dementia care. When we were creating the garden, we wanted a magical space for residents, their families and friends, and one that can also be used by people in the community with dementia and their carers.

“For people living with dementia, it is important to stimulate different senses. People may forget where they are living in time and place, but they can recognise and experience aspects of a garden – the open sky, sounds of the outside environment, and trees blowing in the wind. This is a freedom we can all connect with.”

The different areas of the garden, Mrs Gilpin explained, each have their own purpose. “The Magical Memory Garden’s pathways and areas flow from one to another with no dead ends as that would be a barrier for someone with dementia. It is important to recognise that Palmerston is about creating different environments for different people. Everybody is an individual and everybody’s dementia is different. Each of our residents is at a different stage of dementia and needs a different stage of care and assistance. It is important to have a range of activities and solutions for these various stages, so we have a caravan to remember days out, a car for the men to polish and sit in, areas for growing vegetables, a farmyard area, and quiet spaces.”

The organisers of the National Dementia Care Awards added: “The judges chose Palmerston Care Home because of their excellent standards of accessibility, ownership, safety and inclusivity. Its innovation in catering for needs, wishes and expectations are outstanding, resulting in a garden that is used all year round come rain or shine. The bar has been raised at Palmerston.”

The Magical Memory Garden has been funded by The Alpha Programme,Groundwork NI, Belfast City Council and Belfast City Airport.

Ring 028 93363558 or visit the Abbeyfield & Wesley website for further information.