Park Avenue BUPA Nursing Home

Fabian visits the BUPA Park Avenue Nursing Home

Fabian's general interest and concern for the needs of elderly people was uppermost in his mind again when he visited the BUPA Care Home at No 8 Park Avenue on Friday 27th January 2012. Fabian's awareness of the distressing issue of Alzheimer's disease and dementia was sharpened some 10 years ago when he led a House of Commons ajournement debate concerning dementia care for a constituent. Park Avenue Nursing Home is situated in the tranquil environs of Roundhay Park and specialises in providing a home especially for elderly people living with dementia.

Fabian at the entrance to Park Avenue Nursing Home

Fabian was welcomed at the home by Manager Tracey Robinson and Customer Adviser Helen Scott who showed him round the home to be introduced to residents and members of staff. Park Avenue Nursing Home can accommodate 43 residents but also offers much care and support to close relatives who are often very distressed when it becomes clear that a loved one needs a level of help that can no longer be provided at home. Fabian learned from Tracey and Helen of the different aspects of dementia and of the very distressing early period for close relatives when confused behaviour becomes of very great concern.

Fabian meets Helen Scott and Tracey Robinson

On touring the care home, Fabian was delighted to see how normal and homely it felt. Residents are encouraged to socialise together and various activities are arranged by the many staff that are on duty at all times. A piano-led sing song was taking place in one of the lounges. Close relatives are welcomed to visit extensively and to help in ways they can in support of loved ones.

Fabian tries out one of the residential rooms at No 8 Park Avenue

The operation of BUPA was explained to Fabian. The organisation was formed from a group of provident associations, therefore has no shareholders and pays no dividends. Any profit generated is fed back into the organisation to improve services to customers and residents. It is now an organisation extending to Australia, New Zealand and Spain. The cost of care for people suffering from dementia is significant. In homes like those run by BUPA, fees depend upon the size and facilities in individual bedrooms but typically are of the order of £700 per week. Current legislation requires the costs to be met by residents who in some cases have to use the value of their homes to pay the fees until their estate is reduced to £23000 when the local Council becomes liable for further charges. With the pressure on Council resources, the provision of residential care for those with dementia and others needing care has become a very hot political issue.

Talking to staff at the home, Fabian was struck by the high level of dedication and vocation towards the residents being looked after. Every person is offered extensive training for the difficult work involved and they learn how to offer care and friendship. Dealing with the most basic cleanliness and personal needs of residents can be very demanding. Residents have to be looked after for 24 hours each day and staffing always includes two nurses on duty at all times of day or night.

The splendid large house that has been converted into a care home

Fabian learned of how current research suggests that those living with dementia can be best helped in their daily lives. Rather than try to insist on reinforcing reality, (eg. by reminding people of names they have forgotten or of their repeated conversations) it is often kinder to let those with dementia live in their past, if they want to, and only intervene if they are distressed by incidents they remember. At Park Avenue Nursing Home residents have their own personal collection of memorabilia to give them a link to the life that they can still recall. Fabian was moved by the professional approach of staff combined with the input of their personal humanity towards residents and all done on salaries which are most definitely not in the top earnings league. On a day when controversy reigned about bankers' bonuses, Fabian felt that somewhere priorities within our approach to national remuneration levels had become grossly distorted and unjust.

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