Story of Mary’s Kitchen Told To the World

marykitchenThe team behind a pioneering “Come Dine with Me” project designed to help people with dementia enjoy eating with family have been invited to tell the world the key to its success behind the service.

Rhona Forrest, project manager at Whitehill Court Day Care and Andy Magee service manager, will make the journey to the International Short Breaks Association Conference in Wolfenbuttel, Germany to talk about “Mary’s Kitchen” and the positive impact its service has had on users.

For those with dementia, eating out in restaurants can be a difficult and challenging experience for them and their carers because of the unfamiliar environment which is why “Mary’s Kitchen” was created.

By providing a dining out experience within recognisable surroundings, service users can now relax and spend quality time with their loved ones.

A series of workshops will take place across the three day conference, from September 9-11, with Rhona and Andy making a joint presentation with Shared Care Scotland- the organisation that manages the Short Breaks Fund, providing grants to not-for-profits causes to develop short break opportunities in Scotland.

Backed by the Scottish Government, the aim of the fund it to stimulate new short break opportunities that enrich lives of both service users and their families, something Mary’s Kitchen has benefitted greatly from.

The presentation will focus on the once a month “Come Dine With Me” inspired evenings which were created in memory of Mary Abel who worked at the service for 18 years as Assistant Manager before passing away on Easter Sunday 2013.

Kathy Crombie, Communication and Marketing Manager at Bield, said: “We are thrilled the team at Whitehill Court has been invited across to the International Short Breaks Association Conference in Germany.


“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Andy and Rhona to discuss what they have done with Mary’s Kitchen, the positive effect it has had on both service users and their families, our vision for developing similar opportunities across Scotland and hopefully provide some food for thought for other organisations hoping to do something similar.

“Hearing from other services across the world will also provide Bield with the chance to learn more about ways to improve the services we provide and show us new ideas that could benefit Bield as a whole.”

More than 300 delegates from more than 15 countries will attend the conference which will include discussions about best practice, different approaches to special needs and showcase a variety of skills and talents within the care industry.

The duo from Bield will explore a variety of topics during the presentation including; the influence of the fund on the short breaks in Scotland, what happens when short break providers are allowed to think more adventurously about the services they offer, what they have learned about connecting people to their communities, discussing more imaginative ways to measure the difference that a short break can make and illustrate how even modest amounts of investment can be the catalyst for innovation.

Rhona added: “I recently celebrated 20 years working at Whitehill Court and have a great deal of experience working with people with dementia.

“Hopefully this presentation will allow people to hear more about how Mary’s Kitchen has already benefitted our users and potentially be recreated in other services across Scotland, and even the world.”