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Hospital Healthcare Europe
Hospital Healthcare Europe

IT integrated in dementia centre of excellence

14 July, 2008  

Southport will be put on the map as a UK and international “service centre of excellence” for people with dementia when a GBP 5 million development plan gets under way later in 2008.

Birch Abbey care home in Southport, which specialises in dementia care and support, will be more than tripled in size and feature groundbreaking technology and care and support techniques. Up to 30 highly specialised jobs will be created.

The technology developed and in use at Birch Abbey is already being sold internationally.

Dan Lingard, Chief Executive of Altrincham-based Melton Health Care Limited, which owns Birch Abbey care home in Southport, is a former software developer working with IBM and the BBC. He says much-misunderstood dementia needs to be fought, and sufferers supported and inspired rather than simply having their basic needs attended to.

“We looked at more than 50 care homes when we decided to invest in this project. We chose Southport because the care home staff and senior professionals in the area are the most skilled, had the best attitude, show the best response to the needs of dementia sufferers and are the most caring and compassionate,” said Lingard.

“Our new Birch Abbey will be a revolution in care services for people with dementia and their families. To us it just felt right that Southport with its long tradition as a caring community should lead this revolution and the birth of a new era in care.”

Birch Abbey currently has accommodation for 18 clients and has pioneered a specialist dementia patient monitoring system, MyAmego, an award-winning world first which is now being sold and installed in care homes internationally.

“Without having to close our doors, we are completely rebuilding Birch Abbey so that we will be able to accommodate 60 clients, and rather than simply gearing it to provide basic food, hygiene and life care for clients, we are designing in – from scratch – technology, accommodation, entertainment, activity, social interaction and a broad range of care services and features that have never been seen together under one roof in the care industry.

“But, crucially, this is not just about a building – it is about an attitude to dementia care, service and support.”

“There are two issues – firstly, driving an understanding that while the onset of dementia cannot be reversed, it can be contained or slowed, primarily by stimulating the mind and keeping the body even just mildly active,” said Lingard.

“The issue for care service providers is driving activity, but also monitoring it as well. MyAmego is a fob which the patient wears or carries. In it is a microchip. Data about the movements of the patients is captured from the fob by monitors placed around the care home, the patient’s own home or even in or nearby shops they might visit.

“This enables the care team to monitor the movements of patients, not just for safety, but also to assess their activity levels. The system analyses location, activity and risk in relation to that patient’s individual needs or circumstances – but will page, text or email carers for assistance only when appropriate.

“In a nutshell, it ensures they’re safe, but also ensures they are physically and mentally active, but also maintains an individual’s privacy.”