Improving people’s lives in Northern Ireland

Housing with care
at Kirk House

Kirk House wins Gold!

Celebrations have been taking place after Kirk House won the Gold Award in Dementia Design for the newly adapted wing Memory Lane. Providing high quality dementia care, Memory Lane provides accommodation where residents with dementia can live safely and with dignity.

The award comes from the Dementia Centre at the University of Stirling and Kirk House is the only non purpose-built accommodation in Northern Ireland to currently hold the award and one of only two buildings in Northern Ireland to be currently accredited.  The Gold Award is only given to those buildings which meet their stringent criteria for dementia-friendly design.

BCM Dementia Lead Sarah Penney and Kirk House Manager Andrea Selby celebrate winning the Gold Award

Sarah Penney, BCM’s Dementia Lead said,

“We are delighted with the news that Memory Lane in Kirk House has been awarded Gold by the University of Stirling for its dementia-friendly design.  This recognises all the hard work and creativity that has made Memory Lane such a supportive home from home for the residents and is a great achievement for an existing building which has been remodelled.  Combined with the fact that the staff won ‘Staff Team of the Year’ at the Dementia Achievement Awards, it means that Kirk House and Memory Lane can provide a level of care which will enhance the lives of our residents, proving that it’s possible to live well with dementia.”

Kirk House, which is owned by Choice and managed by Belfast Central Mission (BCM) has recently adapted part of the building into Memory Lane, providing  high quality care for people living with dementia.  Major changes have been made to residents’ flats and communal areas, which combine a cutting edge approach to dementia design with a homely feel to make residents more comfortable and independent and to reduce confusion.  Features such as using contrasting colours and bright lighting, work alongside personal touches like letting residents choose the colour and number of their own front door to help them find their way

Everything is designed with the residents in mind; there are plenty of opportunities for reminiscing and sharing happy memories and features such as a ‘shop’ mean residents can help themselves to fruit, drinks and healthy snacks.  A safe enclosed garden has been constructed so residents and their guests can enjoy all the benefits to wellbeing that spending time outside can bring.  The garden includes accessible paths, lots of seating and the residents were involved in choosing the plants and shrubs.

As part of the commitment to supporting those living with dementia, the staff team at Memory Lane have completed the innovative DSDC ‘Best Practice in Dementia Care’ development programme, and the changes they have implemented have made great improvements to the quality of life for residents.  The Best Practice programme has been so successful that all of the staff at Kirk House are in the process of completing this training in order to benefit all residents.

The next stage in BCM’s commitment to improving care for older people will be the planned flagship project - Copelands, Dementia and Nursing Care in Millisle, Co. Down.  This development will provide specialist dementia and nursing care for people with dementia who are still physically active but require a safe and supportive environment and will be constructed according to the University of Stirling’s Gold Standard in dementia design.  The model of care which Copelands will provide is that which is already being used successfully in Kirk House. Copelands has recently been awarded planning permission.