Looking after people with dementia isn’t easy – but a day care centre in Livingston has found that the key to success is involvement and activity. And that philosophy has brought a recommendation for “excellent” grades from the Care Inspectorate, in the latest inspection of the Rosebery Centre, which is housed at St Paul’s Church in Ladywell.

DementiaCare Inspector Janet Wilson said: “I’ve never experienced a day care centre quite like Rosebery. The service users are always asked for their views, whatever their level of understanding, and the carers and volunteers – many of whom have been carers themselves – are encouraged to take part in the staff training programmes. “There’s a high level of consistency among the people who work in the centre, and at the end of each day the staff and volunteers discuss each client and evaluate how they enjoyed the experience.”

Centre manager Nancy Burgoyne said: “We started the service 28 years ago and took advice from many agencies – social work, health and the voluntary sector – on how to provide the best possible service to people with confusion problems. “When I was in training, experts thought that people with dementia couldn’t cope with more than three or four activities a day. I soon discovered that wasn’t the case. I was also told by those who trained me that people with dementia didn’t have the ability to discuss their condition – well, that was wrong too.” Nancy noticed that TV programmes watched by her young children changed every two or three minutes, and wondered if the idea would work for dementia sufferers. It did. The Rosebery Centre has expanded several times and now takes in 45 people a week (15 people on each of three days). Nancy said: “We have two members of staff and around 10 volunteers each day and we have a list of 200 activities for our members as they like to be called. “It’s a combination of physical, mental and emotional activities, and if something isn’t working we just change it there and then.”

We also encourage the members to take activities home with them to stimulate their interest when they’re not here. We provide home visits, and if a carer can’t make it to the centre on a training day, we’ll take the training to them at home.” One of the centre’s newest activities is peer counselling where people with dementia – who know they have the condition and want to talk about it – gather in a group and talk about their feelings and emotions, and support each other. Janet Wilson added: “I was so impressed with Rosebery that I have passed on her contact details to other day care services who could learn from Nancy and her team.”