SET in the picturesque Abbots Bromley countryside, surrounded by green fields and overlooking the village church is a brand new day care centre catering for sufferers of dementia and their carers. Two women who have worked in the care industry for 30 years have put behind them the disappointment of redundancy after the national cutbacks took their toll to set up a haven which looks set to provide a much needed service. Reporter JAMES BRINDLE and photographer MARK DUDLEY went to find out more.
DRIVING up a country lane in the heart of the idyllic village of Abbots Bromley you will come across a day support centre soon to act as a lifeline for sufferers of dementia and their carers.
Chrysalis Day Support is the brainchild of Lynn Hulme and Paula Thomas, both from Tean, who have spent their working lives in the care industry and despite a personal setback they are determined to continue helping others affected by the tragic mental illness which is increasingly prevalent in modern society.
Having worked in social services at Staffordshire County Council the pair were well placed to see a gap in services which they felt they could fill after they were made redundant.
Mrs Hulme told the Advertiser how she and Mrs Thomas came to set up Chrysalis and what they hope to offer from their Goose Lane base.
She said: “We were at the social services for 30 years providing domiciliary care services at Staffordshire County Council where we were home care managers.
“We were made redundant but as we had provided lots of care for people in the community and knew their needs we felt we could continue in that field. We have worked in the care industry all our lives that is what we do.
“What Chrysalis offers is person-centred care, based around their individual needs and we hope that they get fulfilment to maximise their independence.
“It is about doing as little or as much as they want to do in a safe, caring environment.
“Caring for someone with dementia is very stressful so it is important they have somewhere to come where they can bring the person they care for — somewhere where they feel safe and where they can get respite care.
“We have the experience and we know how much there is a need for dementia care services. Dementia related illnesses are on the increase as there is an ageing population.
“Using our service can also help keep sufferers at home longer because if people can have a couple of days of respite support that can keep them at home as long as possible.” Potential users of Chrysalis could be scared off by a regimented regime giving them little freedom but Mrs Hulme said the service they will provide is not about that.
“We have a butterfly approach”, she said. “Service users can flit about and do whatever they want. They can do gardening, they can dress up, wash their hair and do hand massaging which is proven to relax people — any meaningful activities.
“Meaningful activities are just what fulfil you. It could be just dusting, cleaning or getting a trowel and putting some seeds in the garden. It is about fulfilment.” Mrs Thomas added: “We are also here for dementia patients who are living on their own as it may be that because of their condition they may not be eating properly, cleaning properly and don’t have meaningful time during the day.
“We can provide nutritional food and activities to give them more fulfilment.” Mrs Thomas said that one of the results of dementia is that sufferers ‘regress’ and she said it was important that they could identify with how the patient was when they were younger.
She said: “When someone starts here we get an idea from their family or carers what they used to be like because due to the illness they regress back to how they were.” The setting up of the centre in Abbots Bromley has been hard work for the pair who have taken on the challenge by themselves without any council backing.
“It is a private venture, done out of our own pockets”, Mrs Hulme said. “We hope to make it a success because we know there is a need there.
“We had an open day last month so people could see what we are about and what we offer. We have done a lot of the work ourselves such as the wet room which we put in together.
“We have been here since January 3 so it has taken a long time to get it how we want. We are structuring a garden as well but we want the users to have an input and do whatever they want with it.” Finding a perfect home for Chrysalis proved difficult but in Rose Bank in Goose Lane, with its surrounding fields and wonderful views, they landed on a winner.
Mrs Hulme said: “We looked for a long time to find a suitable place we wanted somewhere nice for people to go. This is rural and idyllic — we even have chickens running around outside.” Mrs Thomas added: “It is a great location it is very peaceful there is no motorway running out the back or anything like that.
“We saw some places that were completely unsuitable but when we saw this place we thought it was completely ideal.
“We could not really start marketing until it was set up but we have had plenty of interest. It takes time but hopefully we will get there.” The pair hope that the coming months will see the centre find its feet and it can look at expanding and offering more and more activities to users.
Mrs Hulme said: “We have two members of staff we have already recruited who have extensive training in caring for people and we have other people who have expressed an interest who we will be interviewing.
“Once we get going we are looking to do theme days like Easter bonnets and we can have something for the Royal Wedding as well for example.”
Mrs Thomas added: “We are really looking forward to getting on with what we want to do and we hope in the summer to do some local outings to tea rooms and such to break things up.”
People interested in using the service or finding out more about what it is about can contact Chrysalis Day Support on 07593 275380 and are encouraged to go and visit as long as they ring to arrange a suitable time beforehand.