UTTOXETER MP Andrew Griffiths has cut the ribbon at a new day centre for the elderly in town.
Mr Griffiths said the St Mary’s Mount Day Care Centre will help families caring for dementia sufferers in the Uttoxeter area.
The centre opened in a building neighbouring the St Mary’s Mount care home, in Holly Road.
Mr Griffiths said: “With people living longer, the challenge for all of us is how we care for our family and friends in old age.
“This new facility will give dignity and help to those suffering from illnesses such as dementia, and provide desperately-needed respite and support to their families.
“We are very lucky to have this help in Uttoxeter.” Innovative ideas have gone into the establishment of the new centre.
Some unusual facilities, including a silver surfers internet café, a hair salon and a licensed bar were included in plans announced in the Advertiser back in March.
Manager Sue Step said the facility would help dementia sufferers ‘stay in the real world’ and give their carers some respite.
She said: “I like to think of our day care service as more of a social club, a place where people can come and socialise.
“We don’t have just one big room with people sitting in a circle. Instead, we have many different rooms to cater for people’s moods and needs.
“We have the comfortable pub room with bar, pool table, football table and table skittles.
“There’s even a TV should guests want to watch football.
“There are two lounges – one we call the red room for chatting and knitting, playing bridge or listening to music, and the other, the blue room, which we hope will be a little calmer for anyone wanting a more relaxed feel.
“Reducing the feeling of loneliness and isolation felt by many older people is important to me.
“Not only is our day care service a place for people to socialise, we are also working with groups from the community to provide fun and creative activities.
“We’re appointing an artist, someone who does flower arranging, and a lady who does fine art and pottery. We also have local charity Art and Soul coming in on Monday mornings.
“Domiciliary care is great and I’m an advocate of people staying in their own home as long as possible, but sometimes there are so many out there who are on their own or living in poor conditions.
“Coming here will just brighten their day.”
Many sons and daughters are effectively full-time carers for their elderly relatives and can miss out on social engagements due to their responsibilities.
And Ms Step hopes the centre will allow them to pursue the leisure activities they sometimes have to miss out on.
She said: “If you want to go to the pub, for example, you’re faced with the problem of many dementia sufferers not being able to go to the toilet on their own.
“Things as simple as taking them to the hairdressers can be incredibly difficult when the staff aren’t used to dealing with someone with dementia.
“I want to be able to offer a solution to those kind of problems.
“It leads to many people being stuck at home, caring for their relatives and sometimes means they miss out on things.
“If carers want to drop them off while they enjoy some time alone together, that will be facilitated around the clock, including at weekends and on bank holidays.
“But we’re also keen for families, friends and carers to come and enjoy themselves here.”
Last month, a representative from charity Approach visited Uttoxeter 50 Plus Forum to give a talk on dementia.
Rob Ledgar told the meeting that, by 2021, it is estimated there will be one million sufferers and, by 2051, that figure could hit 1.7 million.
By Richard Castle (Uttoxeter Advertiser)