Derbyshire care home brings family together to mark resident Ian’s 60th birthday

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A Derbyshire care home brought a resident’s beloved family together to mark his 60th birthday.

Former soldier Ian Burton has been living with frontotemporal dementia for a decade and loved seeing his grandchildren play at the party arranged by staff at Barrowhill Hall, a 74-bedroom residential and nursing home in Rocester.

Ian left the 22 Signal Regiment in 2006 after 22 years of service and became a technical support worker for Derbyshire police. As he approached his 50th birthday signs of his condition began to emerge, and he was medically retired after his diagnosis. He has lived at the home’s young onset dementia household, Churnet Lodge, for seven years.

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The specialist skills of the home’s team mean their care has adapted to suit Ian’s needs as his condition has progressed. His family have become part of the household too and the team understands the power they have to still touch his emotions.

Ian Burton's 60th BirthdayIan Burton's 60th Birthday
Ian Burton's 60th Birthday

Ian’s wife, Wendy Burton, says, “Everyone went above and beyond to make Ian’s 60th a special event. It was heart-warming and lovely for us to have that memory as a family. It means a lot that the home was able to create that for us.

“The team at Churnet Lodge are so supportive and welcoming and they do everything they can to keep Ian well and content. Over the last two years he has continued to deteriorate, he needs complete support and has recently lost the ability to walk.

“As a family we have to accept these changes and we talk openly about what we are going to face. There is still some recognition from him and he likes to watch our two grandchildren play.”

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His party was held in the home’s lounge overlooking the grounds and countryside with live music, buffet food and a special tank cake – a tribute to Ian’s military career. Ian’s grandchildren were in attendance along with family, friends, residents and team members.

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Ian Burton's 60th BirthdayIan Burton's 60th Birthday
Ian Burton's 60th Birthday

The party took place just ahead of Dementia Awareness Week and since his diagnosis Wendy has become a carer herself and dedicates her time to raising awareness about rare forms of dementia.

“I attend seminars and I am a volunteer with Rare Dementia Support,” she says. “Our aim is for people to ask what type of dementia someone has as opposed to thinking of Alzheimer’s if someone discloses they have dementia. Bruce Willis’ diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia last year, the same type Ian has, helped to raise awareness and it would be great to keep this momentum.

“I also work with the education team at Derby Royal giving ‘Expert by Experience’ interviews to medical students. When they are fully trained and our GP’s of the future they will have a better understanding of the typical traits of someone who has frontotemporal dementia and the difficulties facing carers and family members.

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“The team at Barrowhill Hall have been a pillar of support and I can always turn to them for information too. It’s lovely to be able to take this knowledge and my experience and use it to help others when I’m out in the community.”

Ian and Wendy Wedding Day - August 1986Ian and Wendy Wedding Day - August 1986
Ian and Wendy Wedding Day - August 1986

Care home manager, Dania Meadows, says, “Education around dementia is incredibly important and people like Wendy are integral to raising awareness. We do everything we can to provide outstanding care, give reassurance to families and to try and alleviate people’s worries and concerns about their dementia journeys.

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“It’s been a privilege to be able to care for Ian during his time here and we will continue to do so, supporting his family every step of the way. It was lovely to be able to mark his 60th birthday bringing his loved ones together for the occasion.”

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