A unique series of dining events giving people with dementia and their carers the opportunity to dine together in a safe and familiar environment has won an award from one of the world’s leading food companies.
The “Mary’s Kitchen” project, created by dedicated staff at Bield’s Whitehill Court in Kirkintilloch, has been presented with an Outstanding Award of Achievement by Unilever Food Solutions.
It is the first award of its type to be made in the UK by the food giant, who – as well as being home to brands such as Knorr and Hellman’s – supply a range of businesses, restaurants and contract caterers in 74 countries.
Stephen Kinnaird, Regional Account Executive at Unilever Food Solutions, said: “From the first time I heard about the concept I knew it was going to be something special.
“People take for granted the experience of going out for a meal with family and friends but it is only when this opportunity is taken away from you that you realise how important to family life it truly is.
“After working with some of the staff members at Whitehill Day Care to design posters in order to promote Mary’s Kitchen I was able to see the real passion they display for their work.
“The job that they do is nothing short of inspirational as they really do help improve the lives of people with dementia by allowing them to ‘dine out’ in the comfort of their own dining room.
“At Unilever Food Solutions we had never seen a project quite like it and felt it ought to be shown the recognition it deserves with a special achievement award.
“We hope the project continues to go from strength to strength helping to shine some light on what can be a dark and lonely time for people living with dementia.”
With 20 years experience caring for people with dementia, staff at Whitehill Court spotted a gap in the lives of older people. They could not enjoy the simple experience of eating out with family primarily due to the distress unfamiliar surroundings would pose to them.
Rhona Forrest, Service Manager at Whitehill Court, said: “Ultimately, the driving force behind our work is to improve the quality of lives of the people in our care and we believe that Mary’s Kitchen has gone a long way in helping us achieve this goal.
“It has been quite overwhelming to see how much joy the venture has given to our service users and we are delighted that we can now offer them a calming environment where they can spend quality time with loved ones whilst feeling so at ease.
“We are absolutely thrilled that Unilever has given us this award which recognises the fantastic work of our staff. It is our intention to ensure Mary’s Kitchen will be a long running project.”
Mary’s Kitchen operates monthly and can be booked from 5pm until 10pm. It offers a varied menu of meals put together by the staff at Whitehill Court.
The initiative is focused on Bield’s Free To Be commitment which strives to let people make their own choices about how they live their lives but being there to support them when they need it.
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 provider of a wide range of housing and care services for around 20,000 older people across 22 local authorities.