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New dementia care facility opens in Norwich

A brand new, purpose-designed facility to provide care for elderly people with dementia has been opened in Blofield, Norwich, bringing the very latest thinking in dementia care to Norfolk for the very first time.

The Manor Lodge residential care home was officially opened today by Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care Services. It will provide day and short-stay respite care in addition to providing residential care for 26 elderly people at various stages of dementia. The fifth care home of the family-run, Norfolk and Suffolk-based Swan & Cygnet Care organisation, Manor Lodge has been purpose-designed by Tom Ground, one of the foremost UK architects specializing in residential buildings for those with the condition.

Swan & Cygnet director and family member, Robert Blackham, said of the opening: “This is a great day for my family, having put our combined experience of over 60 years of residential care home management into such a ground-breaking project – and it’s now become reality. We wanted to do something different here, by designing and building the best facility that we could, from the ground up, without having to compromise by adapting an existing building. Tom Ground and our builders, Draper & Nichols, have done a brilliant job in giving us everything that we wanted in creating a really special environment for people trying to cope with the effects of dementia. Our thanks also to Norman Lamb for coming along to officially open Manor Lodge today, something we arranged before his recent appointment as Minister of State for Care Services – a stroke of fate if ever there was one!”

Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care Services commented: “This place is amazing, having had real care and attention to detail used in its design. The care sector faces real challenges at the moment and there have been recent cases where lack of commitment from the owners of care homes has led to problems – even abuse – for residents. Here we have the opposite of that situation, with a dedicated family who are completely ‘hands-on’, know all of their staff very well, growing and training them from within, and also play a part in running all of their homes – and that’s incredibly important.

“Dementia probably presents the one of the biggest health challenges of the twenty-first century. The rate at which people are getting dementia is increasing and, quite disturbingly, only about 40% of people with the condition have been diagnosed, so 60% are carrying on, struggling through life without the proper care and support that the system could potentially give to them and, critically, to their loved ones. This is why, back in March, the Prime Minister issued a dementia challenge which focuses on three things: radically improving healthcare and support for people with dementia – through the introduction of more places like this; to create dementia-friendly communities and to carry out more research into this condition which is said to be the single greatest health concern in people over 55 years of age. Facilities like this can provide an enormous sense of reassurance, demonstrating that you can have a quality of life – even with dementia – and stepping-up to the challenge, right here in Norfolk.”

Although the Blackham family are personally involved with all of the Swan & Cygnet care homes on a daily basis, Manor Lodge will be managed by Frances Friday who has been involved within the family organisation for over 16 years. Frances recently gained a diploma in Managing Dementia Care at Bradford University, under the leading light in UK dementia care, Tom Kitwood.

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