Pioneering centre to provide innovative care and support in Darlington


AN AWARD winning retirement village is investing £1.5m in a new care centre as it continues with growth plans as a leader of innovative care.

Middleton Hall Retirement Village, near Darlington, is building the radical centre following the success of its innovative Family Living service, which provides opportunities and active participation, particularly for people with dementia, and gives residents the chance to live and thrive, similar to the way they would at home.

Individual support is achieved by a maximum number of eight residents with a high staff to resident ratio. Residents are involved in their own cooking, housework and gardening activities as well as recreational hobbies such as baking and growing their own vegetables.

This pilot service opened at Middleton Hall Retirement Village in 2011 and is based on the very different style of care of ‘small group living’ found in the Netherlands.  Debby Lamont, head of care and quality at Middleton Hall, helped set up and develop the service during her first class honours degree in dementia studies.

Residents regain their self-confidence and independence by focusing on what they can still do which gives people a sense of pride and achievement, no matter how small the task. Staff do not wear uniforms as they become like extended family.

The new centre, which will be called Middleton Oaks, is due to open in late Spring and will provide two households with eight en-suite bedrooms each. The retirement village, which currently employs 160 people, will be looking to hire another 10 members of staff.

Building work will finish in April with residents moving in in May.

Jeremy Walford, managing director of the retirement village, said: “We’ve had such positive results with our current family living service, including two residents whose level of care has been reduced due to their increased independence, that we now want to invest in it further.

“We’re always keen at Middleton Hall to see the person first and we do this by collaboration with the family and resident, getting to know all about their life, goals and aspirations. Having a family environment enables residents to live in a more relaxed, nurturing environment, not bound by routines or times”.

Middleton Oaks will have two small households each with eight bedrooms. The separate entrance to each household will be through a domed winter garden. Within each household, there is a lounge, dining and kitchen area coupled with a further family room where hobbies or quiet time can be enjoyed.  Residents of Middleton Oaks will continue to benefit from all the communal facilities of Middleton Hall including Middleton Spa, The Orangery and all the outdoor facilities available

This small group living ethos has found great favour with relatives who are witness to the benefits of this nurturing and participative environment.

Doreen Dowson, a family relative described her thoughts on the mode of care.

“My mother has been a resident of the small family living service for the past four years. The dedicated team of staff has patiently supported her as her dementia has progressed, she has never been distressed and is content. Staff understand her moods and needs probably better than we do now. All residents are encouraged to help in the daily running of the household with staff helping each resident according to their abilities and level of help required. Middleton Hall’s commitment is that you can live well with dementia and residents certainly do that. The staff are truly dedicated to their happiness and well-being at all times.”




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