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Residents' recipe to cope with dementia

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 March 2010 | UPDATED: 15:48 07 July 2010

Bilney Hall Care Home

Bilney Hall Care Home

Richard Parr

Residents of a care home are taking a step back in time and cooking up a project that could help them cope with dementia.

Staff have found that when it comes to taking care of people suffering with dementia, sessions of good, old-fashioned baking can help boost their memories and aid their social skills at the same time.

Residents of a care home are taking a step back in time and cooking up a project that could help them cope with dementia.

Staff have found that when it comes to taking care of people suffering with dementia, sessions of good, old-fashioned baking can help boost their memories and aid their social skills at the same time.

The development in the Bilney Hall home comes when it has been revealed that one million Britons will be victims of dementia within 15 years.

And the new study has revealed that knock-on effects of dementia cost the British economy twice as much as cancer treatment.

The study says that each dementia patient costs the economy £27,647 per year. A cancer patient costs five times less.

Bilney Hall has created a 1950s-style kitchen where residents can bake cakes, biscuits and sausage rolls.

The home's manager, Liz Carlton, said some people with dementia remember cooking for their families in the post-war years.

However, due to environmental health regulations, residents are not allowed to cook in the home's main kitchen so it was decided to set up a separate kitchen where they could cook for themselves.

“We applied for a capital government grant, through Norfolk County Council, and received £2,600 to spend on the kitchen. We bought an American-style fridge and high-level electric cooker, both of which resembled those which were used in the 1950s,” explained Mrs Carlton.

She searched in antiques shops and on eBay for bits and pieces from the period to add to the 1950s atmosphere. The goods included flying plaster ducks for the wall, a stand-alone old cupboard with drop-down doors, a classic wooden red-top table and chairs. People also donated items.

Twice a week a cook goes into the home to help guide the residents through the process - but they can use the kitchen at other times provided they have been assessed to be capable and safe to do so.

“The residents love it - even some of the men here enjoy going and cooking in the kitchen. It is part of what they remember from the past and it helps keep them busy,” she said.

Mrs Carlton added: “Friends and families of residents who visit the home are amazed at how much the residents enjoy using the kitchen - and how many memories it can bring back for them.”

Bilney Hall dates back to the 19th century and has 31 residents. Nineteen residents are in the elderly, mentally infirm (EMI) category including those with dementia.

Bilney Hall is run by Healthcare Homes and its chief executive, Richard Clough, said: “We pride ourselves on the level of care and services we offer. People with dementia need to be treated with real sensitivity and we have the specialist staff to deal with their individual needs.”

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