Memories are key for Blackpool woman’s business

Gillian Hesketh who runs Happy Days creative resources
Gillian Hesketh who runs Happy Days creative resources
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A Blackpool entrepreneur has launched a business specialising in helping people to live well with dementia.

Gillian Hesketh, of Happy Days Dementia Workshop, has devised a course which helps carers care better for patients living with dementia, Parkinson’s disease or recovering from a stroke.

And with early demand strong, she is already looking to expand and take on part-time staff.

The pioneering half-day workshop offers health and social care staff, family members and volunteers the tools they need to improve the quality of life of patients.

She said it is designed to be fun, practical and inspirational, and covers areas such as how carers can interpret body language to identify what a patient needs, techniques to calm agitation and tools to keep people active and well.

Gillian said: “Dementia is reaching epidemic levels in the UK because of an ageing population and we’re all living longer. But too many people with dementia spend their days sitting in a chair, unresponsive and overlooked.

“It doesn’t have to be like that. There are simple things that carers can do which make a world of difference – from eye contact or the power of human touch, to sparking the right kind of conversation.

“Our training empowers and inspires the person looking after someone with dementia so they get the care they deserve and the carer sees the impact they are making.”

The training is complemented by a range of interactive materials – from memory baskets to ‘time to chat’ conversation prompts – which help carers to engage with dementia patients after the workshop has finished.

The business also transforms care home and hospital environments to make them more dementia-friendly by using wall art and nostalgic images. The company has helped create ‘Memory Lane’ - the longest dementia walkway in the UK at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Happy Days Dementia Workshop already runs regular training for, and sells interactive materials to, residential care homes, carers in the community and the NHS.

Gillian said: “We had one lady who hadn’t spoken a word for two years, but after her team of carers applied some of the techniques taught and involved her in a ‘Baking Day’ memory basket she opened up.”

The business is now looking to expand, launching a recruitment drive for a team of workshop leaders.