A Dorset dementia care home has held an awards ceremony to recognise the ‘amazing lives and experiences’ of its residents before staff got to know them.
Residents at Colten Care’s Fernhill home in Longham near Bournemouth have pursued a wide range of careers including sport, fashion, music, art, engineering, zoology, banking, journalism and the armed forces.
They include a World War Two codebreaker who was based at the famous Bletchley Park intelligence gathering centre in Buckinghamshire.
Eleven awards recipients were chosen based on input from relatives and biographical information contained in care files.
Staff came up with the idea of a ceremony after accompanying resident Dr Meg Skelly, an expert in dentistry, to her own dental appointment.
It turned out that the consultant she saw was a student of Dr Skelly’s when she was lecturing in dentistry at Britain’s top university for nursing, King’s College London.
The consultant and surgery colleagues were also familiar with Dr Skelly because of handbooks she had written on aspects of dental practice.
Fernhill’s Companionship Team Leader Kate Morris said: “When we arrived at the dentist’s, Meg received what I can only describe as a hero’s welcome. I then discovered that she had taught her consultant in years gone by. The dental nurses who greeted us all had one of her handbooks and referred to it as their ‘bible’.
“I knew Meg had been a dentist and had written a book but to witness the impact that she had on this team of people really touched me. I related the story to my colleagues and the idea emerged of an awards ceremony to recognise the lives and achievements of residents before we knew them.
“What an amazing and diverse wealth of professions, hobbies and lives we have here at Fernhill. It just goes to show that we are not defined by who we are today but by the lives and experiences we have had all along.”