Outstanding dementia care unit at hospice earns award nomination

The Heart of Kent Hospice in Aylesford has been nominated for a Kent Mental Wellbeing Award by Maidstone resident Bob Burns. This is in recognition of the outstanding support the dementia team at the hospice gives to Bob, his wife Anne and to other dementia sufferers and their carers.

Having moved to Kent from the North West two years ago to be near their son, Bob noticed a marked worsening of his wife’s dementia symptoms. Many different organisations reached out to the couple offering help, but Heart of Kent Hospice (HOKH) proved to be the charity that acted quickly, efficiently and with the greatest of care.

Services available to Bob and Anne include a six week “Making Memories” programme, a Dementia Café, a Dementia Carers’ Group and a dedicated dementia helpline. Both dementia sufferers and their carers are supported by the services on offer, with practical and emotional support available for anyone who needs it.

Bob describes the help  the hospice offers as “hands-on”, with both volunteers and health professionals readily available for him to approach. This has enabled the couple to form valued relationships with the HOKH team, and has changed their lives for the better.

Bob said: “The same volunteers and professionals support you in person, as well as being at the end of the phone to help out. They are very on the ball, and once you’re on their books, you’re on them forever. I think the care that Heart of Kent Hospice dementia team offer is unique to Kent, and I am so grateful to have found them”

Anne and Bob are currently taking part in the hospice’s “Making Memories” programme, which runs over six weeks. Anne and a group of other dementia patients work together with volunteers and health professionals to produce a “memory box”. At the same time, the group’s carers meet in a different room to share and learn from their own individual experiences. This session is led by an HOKH professional dementia specialist nurse, and is a safe and private space in which people can support each other.

Anne and Bob Burns, who nominated HOKH, and benefit from the hospice’s superb dementia care.

The two groups come together for lunch, which is run by volunteers, and after lunch there are joint activities for both sufferers and carers, which enables the carers to understand what the sufferers have been tasked with in the morning. There are also entertainments laid on for everyone to enjoy together.

“I have found meeting with people in a similar situation to ours, and talking with them and the volunteers each week has been hugely beneficial to me.”, says Bob: “I have also been able to speak to volunteers on the helpline when I have been in need of advice. The support Heart of Kent Hospice offers is like a safety blanket.”

Simon Dolby, Fundraising and Development Lead at East Kent Mind, and organiser of the Kent Mental Wellbeing Awards, added: “The work that Heart of Kent Hospice does with dementia sufferers is second to none. It is a small charity, but has a large number of highly motivated volunteers who work hard to help free up the healthcare professionals to concentrate on core services. The hospice’s award nomination is very much deserved.”

Nominations can be linked to a simple act of kindness that lifted the spirits, a business that has improved staff wellbeing, through to a targeted initiative delivered by a charity, community group or statutory organisation to support a mental wellbeing issue.

The event is sponsored by Kent County Council, Kent Community Foundation, ADM Computing, GrainLNG – National Grid, Medway Council, Optyma Security, Wave Community Bank, Cactus Graphics and CommunityAid.

Submit nominations at www.kentmentalwellbeingawards.org.uk For awards news follow @KentMWAwards on Facebook and X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.