Is dementia care changing? How this Lancaster care home transformed the wellbeing of its residents 

Residents playing chess at Evermore Care's dementia specialist care home Ashton Manor in Lancaster, Lancashire.

Ashton Manor aim to improve the wellbeing and lifestyle of its residents, so they can continue to enjoy their independence. - Credit: SevernsJones

What changes are taking place in dementia care, and what impact is it having on the health and happiness of these individuals?

Caring for those with dementia is vital for memory retention and improving their wellbeing as they enter the next chapter of their life. 

“It’s their world, and we need to live in it. This is why we’ve modernised the way we care for dementia residents, enabling them to lead a happy, independent life,” says Gaye Clark, from the Evermore Care Group in Lancaster. 

Below, Gaye shares four innovative methods the dementia specialists at Ashton Manor Care Home have implemented, and how they’ve improved the physical and mental health of their residents. 

1. Creating a therapy space to reminisce about memories

“For a long time, dementia care was focused around keeping individuals in the ‘real’ world, but actually, we’ve found residents to be far happier when they can live in the world that they think they’re in,” Gaye explains. 

When asked what this meant, she continues: “For example, we may have a lady who believes she’s 30 years old and still living with her children and now late husband. We’ve found not reiterating that he’s passed avoids her needing to revisit her grief.”

The nursery at Ashton Manor care home, where dementia patients can reminisce about their memories of parenthood in Lancashire

The nursery at Ashton Manor, with a crib and toys, where residents take time to enjoy fond memories of their children. - Credit: Evermore Care Group

Ashton Manor has created a nursery for residents who experience such symptoms, where they can visit the space and feel like they still have young children. The cribs and toys act as a form of comfort which has a calming effect. “The team will reminisce with residents and organise therapy sessions where they can revisit their memories and feelings,” Gaye says. 

There is also a train carriage that residents can sit in, which is designed to evoke memories of previous journeys when the residents can come and sit inside. “The images of the countryside allow individuals to remember and reflect upon special moments from their life,” she says. 

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2. Using modern technology to help people sleep better

Gaye explains that the traditional care for dementia patients involves regular, bi-hourly checks throughout the night, which can often cause disturbance and disorientation when they’re sleeping. “We know sleep is vitally important for everyone, but particularly for those with dementia,” Gaye says. 

Ashton Manor uses a state-of-the-art acoustic monitoring system, which analyses the sound waves of residents' sleep patterns. "If we see anything abnormal in the night, our team can assist residents as and when they need it, removing the need to enter the bedroom and potentially disturb their sleep,” she adds.  

This offers a better chance of a full night's rest so they have plenty of energy for daily activities and family visits during the day.

The care home also uses passive infrared sensor lighting, which turns on automatically when motion is detected in bathrooms and corridors, making it easier for residents to move around, and switching off when they no longer need it.

The library at Evermore Care group's dementia specialist care home Ashton Manor in Lancaster, Lancashire

There are plenty of spaces for residents to visit within the home to relax and do the things that they love. - Credit: Evermore Care Group

3. Memory boxes to keep their experiences alive

“Talking to residents about what they did the day before may distress them if they can’t remember, and so we direct our conversations towards things they can,” Gaye tells us. 

“We have memory boxes situated outside each room, which we encourage family members to add photos and mementos to. Our team can then use these as a tool to initiate conversations around a residents' own personal memories to comfort them.”  

4. Creating a social space for residents and their families

Gaye explains that a common fear of moving into a care home is the loss of independence and freedom, but assures us that this shouldn’t be the case. “This is the beginning of a new chapter for the residents that join us. One where individuals can socialise, revisit their hobbies or start new ones. We always focus on what they can do, rather than what they can’t.

“We aim to bring the wider community and outside world to them as much as possible, so residents can enjoy their life to the fullest.” 

Residents dancing at the dementia-specialist care home Ashton Manor in Lancaster, Lancashire

“We aim to bring the wider community and outside world to them as much as possible, so residents can enjoy their life to the fullest.” - Credit: SevernsJones

Ashton Manor has a cinema with regular showings for people to enjoy. “Families and visitors can book the cinema for a private viewing with their loved one, so they can spend quality time together and create lasting memories,” Gaye says. 

There is a tea room for residents to enjoy an afternoon cup of tea and a piece of cake with their families on quick visits. They also have a salon that residents can visit to get their hair styled or cut. “Some of our ladies and gents dress up with their coat and bag like a real outing, which we greatly encourage as it gives each day a purpose, a sense of fulfilment and helps them feel at their best,” she shares.

Astley View, a new, £15 million, purpose-built care home is currently being built in Chorley, where these innovations will be implemented. 

For more information on either Ashton Manor or Astley View Care Home, visit evermorecare.com/. To make an enquiry, contact enquiries@evermorecare.com or 01524 566 007.