Linda Flynn, Stockton - 09 April 2013
Linda visits her husband Tom, who is 66, every day at Kirkdale.
She said: “Tom was really active, he was an electrician and he worked all over the world. He read a lot, did The Times crossword everyday and he swam and walked a lot.
“We started to notice a change about 15 years ago and after looking after Tom at home for several years he came to Kirkdale seven years ago.
“When we knew Tom needed to go into a care home, we were given different options to visit and we looked at them all. Some were brand new, had fantastic décor and seemed to be outwardly good but there seemed to be no thought behind it.
“Some had people with dementia on the upper floors, which meant they couldn’t go into the garden. Kirkdale is all on one level and has a great garden which all enclosed and so safe. In the other places there were also huge lounges where everyone sat together and we didn’t like that at all – at Kirkdale there’s lots of small lounges which are quieter and people can choose where they want to sit.
“When Tom was able to walk, he enjoyed walking around Kirkdale as it’s so safe and designed especially for people with dementia. It might not have the shiny new décor, but the care is what is important, and that is the very best possible.
“The thing that was really important to me, but what the other places didn’t have, was high levels of staff. The other homes just didn’t have it, but here the staffing levels are high and that really shows in levels of care.
“Because the staff have been here a long time, there is consistency and they really know Tom. That’s so reassuring. They pick up on small changes that other people might not notice if they were only in for agency shifts for example. That’s so reassuring.
“Kirkdale has a nice, relaxed atmosphere. You can come and stay to visit all day if you want.”
Sylvia Trotter, Norton - 16 April 2013
Sylvia is a regular visitor at Kirkdale, where Alec, her husband of 56 years, is cared for.
She said “Alec used to be very active, he sang with the Cleveland Philharmonic Choir where he was a top tenor.”
He had a massive stroke ten years ago which has left him with vascular dementia. I looked after him at home for six and a half years and then three years ago he moved into a care home. The home might have looked smart, but the care was terrible. In the short time he was there, he lost nearly two stone in weight. He has now been in Kirkdale almost two years, and he has steadily regained the lost weight. I am very happy with the care, love and attention the staff give to Alec.
I used to go to the Fusion Cafe and went to meetings and learned about dementia. That was really helpful and it was good to speak to other people.
Alec is a private man and privacy and dignity are very important. That is respected at Kirkdale. The staff are so caring. One of the things I like is that there are male carers and nurses and that’s been good for Alec.
While some areas of Kirkdale could be smarter, it’s the care that is the most important and the care at Kirkdale is 100 per cent. If I have any concerns I tell the Manager and it’s dealt with straight away, things are sorted quickly.
The staff all know me, and they know Alec. They are so friendly and you get the feeling that there is a friendly atmosphere amongst the staff themselves. It’s like seeing Alec in another family home really and they understand how important family is.
Tony Hutchinson, Middlesbrough - 23 April 2013
In February 2012, Tony’s wife Judith came to live at Allison House.
He said:”Judith became unwell and we saw some odd behaviour. She was cared for in two places previously that weren’t good at all and I was very concerned about where she would receive care.
“But Allison House and its staff are the best in the country. The staff are just fantastic and I keep telling them that if I win the lottery, I’ll give them lots of money!
“They really care for Judith, not because they are paid to care for her, just because they do. They talk to her, they know the short of things she likes and they are genuine people.
“I cannot thank them enough for the care they give Judith. She looks well and is clearly well looked after, safe and happy. The whole family is involved in Judith’s care and we feel that we’re welcome.
“I can sleep at night knowing she’s in the best hands in the country, the hands of people who can’t do enough for her”
Canon Bill Wright OBE, Stockton - 18 June 2013
Bill and Pam were married in 1953 and after successful careers they were enjoying a happy and active retirement when Pam became affected by dementia. Bill tried to care for Pam at home but her condition deteriorated. It became clear she would need nursing care and support in a home. Pam is cared for in Kirkdale.
Bill said: “My son and I were impressed by the marvellous design of Kirkdale and its large garden. Pam very much enjoys being outdoors and so the ability to get outside and have fresh air, in her wheelchair, was very important in our decision of where Pam should be cared for.
“Other homes we looked at were on two levels and had little access to a garden. Kirkdale has an expansive garden, with views across the River Tees. It is enclosed and safe and we use it a great deal. Watching the changing seasons is a great feature for Pam.
“If we are impressed by the design and layout then the quality of care impresses us even more so. I have tremendous admiration for all the staff. The atmosphere is informal, with freedom for people to move around safely and the team communicate so well with us as a family, just as they do with each other.
“Pam had to be taken to hospital on one occasion, and we were phoned immediately so that we could be there as she arrived.
“All the staff understand that we are deeply concerned for our loved one and know that is helpful for us to know exactly what is going on, even on minor issues. It is so clear that Pam is well care for and genuinely loved.
“I am often met by staff as I arrive with information about some event in Pam’s day. I am also greatly impressed by the rapid action of staff whenever there may be any issue in relation to a resident.
“We have access at any time and we stay as long as we wish. Meals are available for us if we wish. Our son Paul and I are daily visitors.
“Pam had some difficulties in her settling in period. She wouldn’t eat and lost weight. The whole team, plus the doctor, did everything they could to help her settle. That included getting her diet right to the point where her eating is a delight, even though she has to be spoon fed as Pam has a special diet. All her weight loss has been restored.
“Should I ever become affected by dementia, I know exactly where I want to be.”