Care home residents slam Dame’s claims

Manor Park, nursing and residential home resident Barbara Nixon enjoying playing a game with activities co-ordinator Jamie Burnett
Manor Park, nursing and residential home resident Barbara Nixon enjoying playing a game with activities co-ordinator Jamie Burnett

CARE homes have hit back at Dame Judi Dench after she labelled their living conditions “inhumane”.

The film star said the sight of pensioners being left with “little to keep their minds busy” was particularly distressing – and a prospect that made her desperate to carry on working.

Interviewed by Saga magazine, the 77-year-old James Bond actress (pictured above right) said: “As anyone who’s visited one of these homes knows, you just cannot put people into a circle of chairs and have them watching television all day – it’s inhumane.

“I don’t really want to retire. I intend to go on working as long as I can because I still have a huge amount of energy. I’m certainly not ready to be packed away somewhere and told to put my feet up and go to bed at a certain time.”

But staff and residents at Manor Park Care Home, in Greenock Road, Hartlepool, where three-quarters of residents have dementia, refuted the claims.

Residents were enjoying games and looking at pictures with activities co-ordinator Jamie Burnett when the Hartlepool Mail visited.

Resident Betty Markham, 91, said: “I don’t get about like I used to, but I can still have a chat and do a bit of sewing.

“You have to keep yourself occupied and I really enjoy it here, it’s a nice place to be.”

Dame Judi suggested families should take in elderly relatives and not put them in homes.

Jean Reaney, manager of Manor Park, said that was not just not feasible for most people.

She added: “It’s not easy as they all have their own personal needs, but that does not mean they sit around all day.

“We have all sorts on, such as exercises, arts and crafts and baking. It’s a busy place with things happening all the time.”

Both of Barbara Thomson’s parents live in the home as her dad, Bill Craig, 89, refused to leave the side of his wife, Vera, 86, when she moved in due to dementia.

Mrs Thomson, 64, said: “My mum has dementia so she has her good and her bad days.

“On her good days she gets involved in activities and on her bad days she stays in her room and I go and play games with her. At the minute it’s splashing water.

“There are a lot of things for them to do and it is getting better.

“It’s really hard to give my mum the time she needs and that is why she is here.

“It is hard for them to occupy everyone, but they do what they can to get the right balance.”

David Granath, director of Hospital of God Greatham, said he would be happy for Dame Judi to visit his sites.

He added: “What she said is a stereotypical view of what a care home is. Certainly in our care homes, that is far from the truth.

“Dame Judi is obviously out of touch and does not realise the work that goes on, but we’d be happy to show her.”

Nicola Morgan, deputy manager at Elwick Grange care home, in Elwick Road, said her residents enjoy an active social life and hardly watch TV.

As she spoke to the Mail, residents were getting into taxis to go out for lunch and play games such as bingo.

Mrs Morgan added: “We have activities leaders and it is a very social place, after all it is their home.”