Activities play an important part of life for residents at Sue Ryder Care at Cuerden Hall in Bamber Bridge, near Preston. AASMA DAY finds out about some of the activities at the centre and why plans to re-build a new purpose built facility will enhance them further.
Just because someone has suffered a brain injury and cannot function like other people does not mean they can’t reap benefits from a range of activities.
This is something that Carol Hitchen knows only too well as her daughter Helen Eubank is a resident at Sue Ryder Cuerden Hall and loves taking part in a variety of activities.
Helen, now 45, had meningitis as a 13-week-old baby and was left with a brain injury.
She was cared for by her mother Carol at home in Chorley until Helen made the decision to move into Cuerden Hall permanently 10 years ago having previously visited the centre for respite care.
Helen is wheelchair bound and her health has declined in recent years, but she still loves taking part in the activities which are organised by staff and volunteers six days a week.
Carol visits Helen at Cuerden Hall three times a week and helps to run activities alongside the team which is led by activities supervisor Laura Brewer.
Helen’s favourite activity is music, but residents also go on trips out, take part in arts and crafts, enjoy weekly quizzes and watch films.
Carol, 72, says: “Helen says the activities at Cuerden give her a reason to get up in the morning.
“She loves to socialise and be involved with everything.
“There is a wide range of activities available because the residents all have different likes and dislikes.
“Everybody is treated as an individual at Cuerden Hall and the activities give residents a chance to express and enjoy themselves.
“It is about ensuring they have a good quality of life.
“I love coming to Cuerden to see Helen and help out with the activities.
“I recently lost my husband and coming here gives me a reason to get out of the house.
“We all get on really well like one big family.
“The plans for the new building are so exciting because we will have a therapy pool, more activities and a lot more space.
“Space is the issue with the current building.
“It is a big old building and it hasn’t got the space that the residents really need.
“The staff try to make life for the residents as nice as they possibly can and activities really help to improve the quality of life for so many people.
“Laura and the centre manager Sara Cook do a wonderful job and all the staff are so friendly. They are always smiling.
“This is Helen’s family and I’m always asking her if she’s happy here.
“She just says: ‘Mum, I’m happy’ and that’s all I need to hear.”
Laura Brewer joined Sue Ryder at Cuerden Hall as activities assistant four years ago and became the activities co-ordinator two years ago.
Her role includes organising and delivering a variety of activities to the residents from arts and crafts and music sessions to beauty treatments, cookery lessons, trips out and multi-sensory activities.
Laura’s team also organise several themed nights for the residents throughout the year.
A bagpiper came to the centre to celebrate Burn’s Night with a traditional haggis served and celebrations were also held to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Laura says: “The activities that we provide at Cuerden Hall are very important to the residents and they really enjoy them.
“A lot of activities have a very beneficial impact in terms of stimulation and interaction.
“We had a multi-sensory day recently looking at the seaside and we had water in a bottle, sand and shells and we drew artwork of the beach and wrote poems.
“It was a way of reminiscing about their experience of the beach and holidays and created a chain reaction of sharing and opening up to one another.”
At the moment, Laura co-ordinates her activities in limited space and the facilities are not ideal.
There is no room dedicated to multi-sensory equipment, which is shifted around the centre depending on what space is available at any given time.
However, under plans to rebuild Cuerden Hall, these facilities will be much improved.
Features of the proposed new centre include a dedicated sensory room with a focus on light, sound and textures, a hydrotherapy pool, a gym and a dedicated kitchen specially adapted for use by people with disabilities.
The activities room will be bigger with a cinema screen, black-out blinds and more storage enabling even more creative and varied activities.
There will also be a beauty room for manicures, pedicures and haircuts.
Laura explains: “The new building will be a great improvement as it will enable us to provide a greater range of activities to a larger group of people with complex needs.
“It is a very exciting project and I’m enjoying being involved in planning this new chapter for Cuerden Hall.”
At present, Cuerden Hall has 36 bedrooms. However, in the new building, there will be 62 bedrooms all with en-suite bathrooms and double doors leading to the garden.
As well as designing spacious and comfortable bedrooms equipped with every mod con, Sue Ryder is working hard to ensure that the new recreational facilities will suit the needs of every resident.
The plans for the new centre have been put forward as Cuerden Hall is currently housed in a Grade II listed building and the necessary modifications cannot be made to bring it up to date.
Sue Ryder Cuerden Hall offers specialist care for people with conditions such as Huntington’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke and acquired brain injury.
For more information about Sue Ryder, visit: www.sueryder.org