PCI's double celebration at Amenity Council Awards

21.9.2017 | Social Witness

River House, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s residential home for older people in Newcastle, County Down, has won first prize in the Northern Ireland Amenity Council’s 2017 Best Kept Health and Social Care Facility Awards for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust region.

The Award recognises the staff and residents of day care, residential and healthcare facilities who showcase their dedication and pride in their workplace or residential care homes by improving their surroundings. There was a double celebration as the 2017 runner up was another PCI residential care home, Sunnyside House in Bangor.

Congratulating both the residents and staff of River House and Sunnyside House in their achievement, PCI’s Residential and Support Services Manager, Linda Wray said, “As an organisation we are absolutely delighted that our care homes have been recognised in this way and I would like to congratulate the residents and staff of River House and Sunnyside House in their achievement.

“We strongly believe that the outside environment of our care homes can be places of peace and calm, used for the benefit of our residents and an important part of their care - especially the dementia gardens that we have in three of our homes. All gardens can be used to stimulate the senses and enhance independence, particularly for those who have always enjoyed gardening and I am so pleased that River House and Sunnyside have been recognised in this way,” she said.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Doreen Muskett, President of the NI Amenity Council, said: “The standard of applications from all of the Residential, Daycare and Healthcare facilities received this year was extremely high. Our judges faced a difficult decision in choosing the overall winner and regional winners.

“The judges were impressed with River House’s efforts as it displayed a fantastic example of the whole centre working as a community for the benefit of all, both in the creating, maintaining and enjoying of the grounds and environment around them.

“The Best Kept Health & Social Care initiative is a fantastic opportunity for facilities across Northern Ireland to work with their service users to have a practical and positive effect on their direct environment. We are extremely grateful to Belfast City Airport for its support this year.”

The Church’s Council for Social Witness has overall management responsibility for River House, which is one of six residential care homes for older people run by the Church. Miriam Chambers is the manager of the seaside home, which offers care and support to 28 older people within a Christian environment.

Miriam Chambers, River House manager said it was great news, “Having been the runners up for two years in a row it is wonderful to win this time round. The residents have put in such a lot of hard work with a lot of planting, including the window boxes, so it is all down to them, their hard work, creativity and effort.

“The garden is lovely to have and is enjoyed in nearly all weathers. The residents use it as much as possible, including the raised vegetable beds, which are well tended by them. We also have a garden house which they have just renamed the Shady Nook. We are all really pleased at today’s news.”

Attending the awards ceremony and offering his congratulations, Rev. John Seawright, convener of PCI’s Older People’s Services Committee, said “If the outside environment is well looked after and cared for, it says a great deal about what you can expect to find once you go through the front door. Although we have received this award for the outside environment, it replicates the high standards of care you will find inside.

“God loves people and that is clearly demonstrated by the coming of his Son, Christ Jesus, among us. As Christians we are called to be a reflection of that love, so the care of our older citizens is an important ministry for the Church.”

Photo L-R: Doreen Muskett, President of the NI Amenity Council; Doris Forsythe, River House resident; Joanne Deighan, Commercial Manager at lead sponsor George Best City Airport; Teresa McKee, South Eastern Trust; Miriam Chambers, manager of River House and Bob Calvert, River House resident.


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