The Ladywell Day Centre is celebrating reaching the final stages of a significant funding bid and holding its Spring Event this week.
The Department of Health announced that the Ladywell Day Centre is amongst successful applicants for stage 1 of the £50 million funding of capital projects to improve care environments for people with dementia.
Day Care Coordinator Ester Wiskerke-den Heijer put in the bid for funding and also organised the Centre’s Spring Event, which played host to a variety of activities for both clients and the public in an attempt to raise money and awareness of the Centre’s Alzheimer and Dementia services.
Funding will provide Ladywell Day Centre with what Esther calls the “necessary tweaks” to improve the environment for her Clients.
The first thing to go will be the floor, Esther explained, “this floor was put in years and years ago because it looks clean, but this to an Alzheimers patient looks wet…. It can be very confusing.”
The centre’s heavy doors are also on the to-do list of renovations, and a new dining hall will also be built.
“The dining hall is too far away for our clients,” she said, “It’s a long way up. You know that song, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary? We sing that on the way up! It’s a bit of a joke but it’s just too much for some of our ladies and gentlemen.”
Esther also said that the funding will enable the centre to help more people:
“As the only specialist Dementia service in the borough, the waiting list for Ladywell is quite long. If we get this funding we can raise the numbers and accommodate more clients.”
One room that will remain the same is the “party room” where clients relax and member of staff, Amigo Antonio, entertains them with his guitar,
Esther said she tends to hire staff with an additional skill and favours those who bring an extra “spark” — she insists this is an essential quality for those working at the day centre.
“You can have your NVQs, your training,” she said, “but you just need that oomph!”
One of the centre’s regular visitors are the Wheels for Wellbeing Charity, which supports disabled people in London by providing a range of specialised cycles for them to use. The Charity provides monthly sessions for the centre and appears at functions like the Spring Event.
Wheels for Wellbeing Director Isabelle Clement said of that with her charity’s help, “…cycling is available to everybody regardless of disability, and it is something everyone should experience.”
Clement praised the day’s event and outlined the importance of Wheels for Wellbeing’s participation, “It’s about being able to share that empowerment, that buzz! Wheels for Wellbeing is making that buzz happen!”
Esther has high expectations for next years event. “If you aim for the stars you can only fall back on the moon,” she said. She’s hoping to expand in future years and work with other organisations within the Borough.
“There are many hubs of positivity in Lewisham council,” she said, “ …many places where the people have got a vibe going. And if you get that all together in one place, that will make the borough stronger. It will just burst!”
Ladywell Day Centre will find out if their bid for funding has been successful in June. If successful, all of the centre’s refurbishment must be complete by the end of 2014.
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Reporting and images by Dennis Funk and Hana Walker-Brown