The Me2U Centre opened in Kirkby, North Liverpool, in April 2018, and provides a range of services to help those with dementia maintain their independence and remain in their own home environments in the care of their families for longer.
It can also provide respite, giving carers the opportunity to attend to normal home and family routines, safe in the knowledge that their loved ones are in expert hands, as well as advice and support for care givers.
However, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and the introduction of social distancing measures, the centre has had to drastically revise its operations. It applied to care watchdog the CQC and is looking at adapting the business to become an emergency crisis facility, with six hospital beds available for high risk dementia patients.
This will provide specialist care for dementia patients, while freeing up vital capacity within the NHS for coronavirus patients. Following the switch, the centre, under the guidance of founder Rosie Whittington, is also offering emergency back-up such as a crisis phone line, a shopping service, and a prescription pick-up service for its 60 clients.
Mum of four Rosie is a former mental health nurse with Merseycare, where she supported people living with dementia, their families and carers.
During this time, she realised there was a need to extend support and ensure that dementia care ‘did not stop on a Friday’ due to more and more day care centres closing, through government cuts. She said: “Families were able to go to work, function, have respite, and then care for their love ones of an evening because they were able to balance, so to speak.”
She was inspired to set up her own business due to her passion for caring for people with dementia and to fill the gaps in this sector.
Having remortgaged her own home, and with the help of her best friend Angela she was able to open the Me2U Centre, which was initially chronically under-funded.
Rosie worked seven days a week for two years – doing five on early shifts as a mental health nurse and weekends in the Me2U Centre – to get the service up and running.
It meant she was unable to take a wage, herself, but she explained: “I’ve found my calling in life – I’ve been put on this earth to serve and I want to help as many people as I can who have been affected with dementia, that’s what I’m here for.”
With just an idea in mind, she was offered the support of The Women’s Organisation, the Liverpool-based social enterprise dedicated to helping small business start-ups throughout the Liverpool City Region.
She was enrolled on 1-2-1 support and group training sessions where she was able to create her own business plan to take the Me2U Centre forward.
Jo Mountfort, Programme Manager and Rosie’s Business Adviser at The Women’s Organisation said: “‘Working with Rosie, Angela, and the team is a pleasure. I have found it inspiring that in a time of crisis, people are working tirelessly to flip their business model with a genuine passion to support the vulnerable people in the community and their loved ones.”
Last year the Me2U Centre won the ‘Health & Wellbeing Business of the Year’ category of The Women’s Organisation’s Enterprising Women’s Awards 2018.
The value of the service the centre provides was emphasised in an independently produced report by EQE Health.
It stated: “The Me2U Centre provides main carers respite and peace of mind that their loved ones are being supported in a safe environment.
And it said: “Despite the Me2U Centre only being open for a very short space of time, it has achieved the four elements of what defines person-centred care.
“These elements are:
- Valuing people with dementia and those who care for them
- Treating people as individuals
- Looking at the world from the perspective of the person with dementia
- A positive social environment in which the person living with dementia can experience relative wellbeing
When lockdown is lifted Rosie said she plans to enhance the centre’s services, including keeping the crisis line, and is even considering the purchase of a bungalow to convert to assisted living and respite care.
She said: “I’ve got a fantastic team – I’m the face of Me2u, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the people I’ve got around me. They are so loyal and adaptable.”
You can find out more information about the Me2U Centre over on their website, Facebook & Instagram
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