The sound of champagne popping has been ringing throughout Chester as dementia specialist Belong raises a toast to its first year in the city supporting older people to live active later lives whilst being part of the local community.
Marking the celebration, the City Road village was transformed into a festival, complete with live entertainment, face painting, favourite food, music, dancing and a birthday cake.
Alongside the bubbles, bunting and bales of hay, a time capsule brought together a trove of special year one memories, including photographs of daily life, memorabilia from national events, and personal wishes for the future. Meanwhile, DIY enthusiasts amongst customers and the Belong Chester team have added a new friendship bench to the dementia friendly gardens.
Patrick Butler, general manager at Belong Chester, commented: “It’s been a fantastic first year; Cestrians have welcomed us with open arms, and we’re pleased to have made so many wonderful relationships with people and businesses – here’s to many more happy years to come!”
Since opening the state-of-the-art complex, the not-for-profit operator has continued paving the way for the future of care provision, employing its successful ‘village living’ model for its customers and the wider community to enjoy a range of on-site facilities, including bistro, entertainment venue, specialist gym, hair salon and therapy rooms. A newly launched monthly dementia café invites local people with a loved one living with dementia for a session of respite care.
Belong Chester is also home to an integrated nursery, operated by charity Ready Generations, and was the first care setting of its kind in the North West to offer intergenerational living. Together, the nursery children and older residents enjoy experiences together, sharing mealtimes, stories, arts and exercise, and its famous ‘prambles’ – rambling with pushchairs – have become a familiar sight in the city.
Adults residing at the village can choose to live in one of its independent living apartments or receive 24-hour dementia and nursing support in one of six extended family-sized ‘households’, with shared kitchen and living room communal areas. The organisation’s award-winning home care service, Belong at Home, is also based at the site.
Another highlight has been the development of Belong’s unique relationship with the Bluecoat, Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, which saw artists working with customers in their home for five months of activities in sculpture, dance, sound art, painting and drawing. An exhibition documenting its creative outcomes is open until autumn at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum.
The organisation also holds a Gold Investors in People accreditation, distinguishing it as one of the country’s top employers as it continues to recruit to its growing team, as well as offer training opportunities to people new to a career in care.