Come Dine with Your Family

by Melissa Clark

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Mary's Kitchen 3A unique series of “Come Dine with Me” themed evenings are launched to help people with dementia and their carers enjoy the experience of eating out together.

Staff at Bield’s Whitehill Court in Kirkintilloch have set up “Mary’s Kitchen” where carers and people who use service can come and eat from a special menu in the complex’s dining room.

The “Come Dine With Me” inspired once-a-month evenings are being created in memory of Mary Abel who worked at the Bield day support service for 18 years as an assistant manager before passing away on Easter Sunday.

For those with dementia, eating out in restaurants can often be a difficult and challenging experience for them and their carers because of the unfamiliar environment.

It is hoped that by providing a dining out experience within recognisable surroundings, they will be able to relax to spend quality time with their loved ones.

Rhona Forrest, service manager at Whitehill Court, said: “People with dementia can’t always go out to restaurants as it can be a very stressful and sometimes an embarrassing experience for them.

“We wanted to take away this stress by creating a special restaurant within the service so people can come and relax because they know where they are. Our staff will also be on hand throughout the evenings to help with any difficulties and ensure everyone can enjoy the family experience of eating meals together.

“The venture has been created in memory of Mary Abel who worked here for 18 years. She knew about the project before she passed away and absolutely loved it. She was always keen to get the service users involved and wanted families to spend more time together, which hopefully will happen with these evenings.

“Mary’s family are delighted that we have created the evening in memory of her as we all know how happy she would be to be involved in such a positive initiative.”

Whitehill Court was awarded £20,000 of funding from Shared Care Scotland which will pay for the “Come Dine with Me” service to run for one year and an additional service where two evenings a week, five residents will get to go out for dinner as an extension to their day care.

‘Mary’s Kitchen’ can be booked from 5pm until 10pm and will offer a menu of various foods selected by the staff at Whitehill Court.

The initiative has been warmly welcomed by Chief Executive Brian Logan, who believes the project typifies the approach Bield has made to improve the lives of the people who use its services.

He said: “As Scotland’s leading provider of housing, care and community services for older people we are dedicated to providing quality care which enhances and enriches lives.

“Our Free to Be commitment is very much at the heart of Bield’s mission – to let people make their own choices about how they live their lives but being there to support them when they need it.

“We can’t thank enough the staff who have made Mary’s idea come to life, which will benefit many of the people who use this service and their families. We hope this is just the beginning of a long running project that we might see in other services across Scotland.”

Bield – a registered charity in their 41st year of business – has grown from humble beginnings, opening its first housing development in Bo’ness to become a major supplier of a wide range of housing and services for around 20,000 older people across 22 local authorities.

Melissa Clark

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