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Classic Morris Traveller will be reminiscence tool for people with dementia at Oakham Grange care home

A classic car has taken pride of place in the garden of a new care home in Rutland to help spark happy memories in residents with dementia.

The Morris Traveller has already been turning heads at Oakham Grange in Barleythorpe even before the facility officially opens.

Robert Myers, head of care pathways, said the fully-functioning vehicle would be both a conversation-starter and a reminiscence tool.

The Morris Traveller at Oakham Grange
The Morris Traveller at Oakham Grange

“It’s a fun thing to have and pretty eye-catching,” he said. “The builders all stopped working to have a look when we brought it in!”

“It’s got such a classic shape and then it’s the different sensory triggers, the smell of the interior or the squeak of the windows, that can really transport people back in time.”

It is well-established that people with dementia take comfort from sounds, smells and other sensations that evoke their past, even though they may struggle with their short term memory.

Robert said the car will spend much of its time parked in the garden where residents and visitors can look around it, listen to its radio and have picnics nearby.

The home is run by Ardale, a family-owned business which also has a sister company that runs a specialist neurological, dementia and stroke care facility in St Neots called The Marbrook Centre.

Due to open next month, it can accommodate up to 60 residents and will create between 100 and 120 jobs. It will be staffed by its own nursing team 24 hour a day.

Brabham the therapy dog at Oakham Grange
Brabham the therapy dog at Oakham Grange

Robert said they also plan to create a putting green in the grounds.

“Golf is a popular pastime of many people and being able to do things like this allows them to eat better, sleep better and generally feel better,” he said.

“It’s all about creating a positive environment for everyone here and their visitors.”

The company has plenty of experience caring for people with dementia, and even has a resident therapy dog called Brabham at The Marbrook Centre.

Named after the Brabham motor racing team, the Saluki-poodle cross is said to be hugely popular and will be a regular at Oakham Grange.

“He’s great,” said Robert, who is a classic car enthusiast. “Like the racing car he’s fast in a straight line but not so good around corners!”

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