I was diagnosed with dementia in 2009 and when no longer able to run my own home. I had already been showing symptoms before my diagnosis, so I retired early from General Practice. My husband was finding it difficult to cope with my bizarre cooking, me not knowing who our guests were, not being able to find my way home, or cope with the house. So, we set out to find somewhere to live without ever needing to move again, while preserving some independence.
We traveled round the country visiting dozens of possible places and were appalled at what we found. All charm and pleasantries until the word dementia was mentioned. They might have beautiful surroundings but provided minimal care. Staff with feet on the table or too busy on their smartphones to acknowledge us. Premises for those with dementia might be brand new yet with1950’s furniture, click clack typewriters even the pre-decimal system of pounds, shillings and pence – I was insulted! They seemed to think we lived in the past. I asked one if they had WiFi and they thought it was a type of game.
I had Young Onset Dementia but still had some skills which I intended to retain. Eventually we found this amazing retirement village in North Somerset run by St Monica’s Trust with Independent Living, a Nursing Home and well-respected Advanced Dementia Unit set in large grounds.
This village consists of over 120 units with one, two or three bedrooms, all different, self-contained and available to buy or rent. A monthly community fee covers communal electricity, domestic and cleaning staff, 24-hour Porters, with availability of 24-hour friendly care staff and a Chaplain. There is a subsidised restaurant, communal lounge, large activities room, library, gym, swimming pool, laundry, guest room and regular shopping trips and outings. Residents also organise actives themselves.
I run my Japanese Memory Groups twice a week and the Management have been very supportive of this.
Not everyone here has dementia, there are those with other disabilities and some just wanting to be free of responsibility of property and garden upkeep as they get older but wanting to maintain independence.
We have a fully staffed nursing home for short or long-term care used by those in independent living when needed.
The Advanced Dementia Unit of independent bungalows arranged around communal safe gardens, brilliantly designed for those who get lost or confused and has an activity program every day.
It is very convenient for couples where the spouse is no longer able to care for their partner, so they can move to the dementia unit, but continue to share meals together there. It is a such a comfort to know one would know the staff and other residents already!
Before Covid we could visit both units at any time, really convenient when a spouse needed more care than possible in independent living as still just a few yards away. Covid changed all this but we are slowly getting back to normal, and the Management have coped brilliant with the pandemic making us feel safe.
I am really happy here and I have wonderful views from my lounge window.
Good Social care also means opportunities to discuss End of Life plans and I have made a short video covering this vimeo.com/116842307