Cheshire Oaks staff plant seeds for patients with dementia at Ellesmere Port Hospital
McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks employees have been giving up their free time to transform a courtyard garden at Ellesmere Port Hospital.
The customer service workers were inspired by attending one of Memory Nurse Specialist Andy Tysoe’s #DementiaDO awareness sessions, which are open to both the public and NHS staff.
“Andy’s presentations make everyone a lot more aware of the struggle that people with dementia have every day,” Kenny Murray, Centre Manager, said. “If there’s anything we can do to make their experience better then we will. It was really inspiring.”
Once a month or so a group from the designer outlet arrives at the hospital to spruce up the garden as a pleasant environment for patients to enjoy – complete with potted plants, park benches and a multi-coloured mosaic.
Such was the popularity of the volunteering venture that the Cheshire Oaks team had to implement a rotation system so all of their volunteers could get involved.
Further discussions about how to help the hospital also led to the donations of Twiddlemuffs, which are sensory hand muffs designed to keep patients both warm and entertained.
They come in all shapes, sizes and colours, with everything from bracelets to buttons and baubles attached for ‘twiddling’. This variety of textures can keep patients calm by giving their hands something to do.
Kenny added: “A member of our Customer Service Team, Carol Dobbins, is a keen knitter and she has been hand-making these.”
Having this kind of support has made a huge difference to morale at the hospital.
Ellesmere Port Administrator Lesley Johnson said: “We can’t thank McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks enough for everything they have done for us.
“The garden looks amazing now and I don’t even know where to start with the amount of Twiddlemuffs they have sent over! Other groups such as Knit and Natter at the Hope Farm Methodist Church have also knitted some. They are all a real credit to the community.”
In the long term the team is hoping to turn the designer outlet into a dementia inclusive site. They would like to see representatives from each brand becoming a Dementia Friend and have even been in touch with Andy about making that happen.
“It’s hugely humbling to think about everything the staff at Cheshire Oaks have done since coming to a #DementiaDO session,” Andy said. “The sessions, which are free and open to anyone to attend, are aimed at sending ripples through the community on how we can all help to improve everyday life for people living with dementia so it’s great to see that in action.”