A flagship dementia centre in Caernarfon has been given an official blessing by two leading North Wales clergymen.
Bryn Seiont Newydd provides specialist care for 71 dementia sufferers on the site of the former Ysbty Bryn Seiont community hospital in the town’s Pant Road
The ground-breaking centre of excellence run by the Pendine Park care organisation has brought over 130 jobs to the area.
After being given a guided tour of the centre and meeting residents Father Deiniol, who is the abbot of the Church of the Holy Protection in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and Bishop Edwin Regan, a former Catholic Bishop of Wrexham, performed a blessing ceremony in the music room.
Father Deiniol achieved national fame in 2008 when he starred in an S4C television documentary which followed his progress as he embarked on a pilgrimage around the world.
Viewers avidly followed his progress as he reached out to his fellow Orthodox Church believers in places as diverse as Macedonia and New York.
Originally from Anglesey, Father Deiniol became a monk in 1967 and was ordained as an Orthodox priest two years later. He has been at his present church for over 30 years.
Along with Bishop Edwin he was shown around the centre by Pendine Park proprietors Mario and Gill Kreft and watched residents enjoy an art class while musician in residence Nia Davies Williams played soothing selections on the harp.
Father Deiniol said: “I had already heard of Bryn Seiont Newydd and realised it was going to be wonderful even as it was being built. Now, on my first visit, it fully meets my expectations of it.
“I know of the high ideals which drive the Pendine Park care organisation and this centre is now a very great asset to North Wales.
“I’m impressed with the care that’s been given to every detail of its construction and decoration.
“The emphasis is on encouraging residents to be active and to have opportunities for their mental engagement. It has a thoughtfulness that is apparent in all aspects of the place and I am honoured to have been asked here today.”
The other special guest, Bishop Edwin, was head of the Wrexham Catholic diocese for many years until his retirement in 2012. He is now once again serving as a parish priest at the Church of St Mary Magdalen in Bleanau Ffestiniog.
During the guided tour of Bryn Seiont Newydd he was amazed to meet an old friend who is now a resident, 82-year-old Daphne Egan.
He said: “I know Daphne from over 20 years ago when I was based in Menai Bridge where she lived with her late husband, Dennis, who was a church deacon. It was an amazing coincidence to see her and we chatted about the old days.”
He added: “I’m very impressed by what I have seen at Bryn Seiont Newydd. It’s a place of light and laughter where people are treated with respect and dignity.
“This place shows what happens when imagination and technology come together to create a vision. It’s an inspiring view of the future.
“We need a more joined-up thinking in the care we give to elderly people. Hospitals have to co-operate with care homes so that we get proper use of resources.”
Mario Kreft said: “We were delighted to be able to welcome Bishop Edwin and Father Deiniol here to Bryn Seiont Newydd to perform a blessing and to see what we’re doing here for people with dementia.
“Bishop Edwin has known our organisation for a very long time. He came to the opening of Bodlondeb, our dementia and mental health care centre in Wrexham, a few years ago and also performed a blessing ceremony there.
“Although Bryn Seiont Newydd is yet to have its full official opening, which will be in the new year, it’s really lovely to welcome him here today. And it is always a great pleasure to meet with Father Deiniol who brings such a dimension to his pastoral work in the community.
“They were both incredibly interested in seeing what we’ve done here with the treatment and care of people with dementia in our society.”
Bryn Seiont Newydd has eight individual ‘Ty’ or houses with dedicated staff and a homely, family feel for specialist needs, gender and age.
With lounges in each, there is also a central coffee shop and an exercise, fitness and well-being suite along with a dedicated music room.
A team of top academics who are all experts in the field of social care visited the centre last November and hailing it for “setting the standard for others to follow.”
Bryn Seiont Newydd took the title of Best New Care Home for the elderly in the prestigious Pinders Health Care Design Awards, with judges heaping praise on the centre for its “intelligent design” and the amount of freedom it gives to residents.
Welsh Language Commissioner Meri Huws has congratulated Mario and Gill Kreft on their “innovative approach” to care provision when she paid a visit to Bryn Seiont Newydd, commending the fully bilingual centre for its “naturally Welsh” feel.