Care home residents learning the lingo at Wheatlands

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A Stirlingshire care home is celebrating the success of an innovative activity programme designed to help residents fight the effects of dementia.

Balhousie Wheatlands Care Home in Bonnybridge is helping tackle the disease, which sees 7.7 million new cases worldwide every year, by offering a range of foreign language workshops to their residents.

Run by social enterprise, Lingo Flamingo CIC, the tailored sessions help residents with early forms of dementia to improve communication, cognitive development and inter-personal skills, as well as build their confidence. It is believed that speaking multiple languages can delay the onset of dementia by up to five years.

Residents have recently begun to learn Spanish in class, having just completed a four-week block of Italian. The workshops are very much activity-based and are designed to be a balance between enjoyment and stimulation. In French workshops, for example, tasting sessions where people smell and eat croissants have helped help awaken senses and memories.

Many of the instructors leading the workshops are either international students or refugees. This is part of Lingo Flamingo’s wider vision to celebrate diverse cultures and backgrounds and facilitate more opportunities to bring younger and older members of the community together.

Grace Sloan, Home Manager at Balhousie Wheatlands Care Home, says:

“Lingo Flamingo’s foreign language workshops have proved very popular with many of our residents. It is fantastic to see how they respond to the activities and the enjoyment they get out of every session. Dementia can be a very isolating and frightening illness and we are delighted to be working with Lingo Flamingo to help residents use these inspiring techniques to help slow down the effects of the disease.”

Lingo Flamingo is the latest in a stellar line up of activities on offer for residents of Wheatlands. The care home recently made history by becoming the first in its region to be awarded a top rating by the Care Inspectorate. The care home was awarded an ‘excellent’ rating of Grade 6 for its care and support, the first across the whole Balhousie group of 25 homes.

Balhousie Care Group’s Participation Charter encourages residents and families to get involved in everything from policy and recruitment to activities at the home. Care home staff have also introduced their own unique learning activities, such as lessons in what it means to experience the effects of ageing themselves.

The Lingo Flamingo programme and Wheatlands’ Grade 6 rating is a prime example of how adopting these principles can have a positive impact on residents’ quality of life and care.