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Pioneering centre is Gordon’s ‘comforting and safe place’

22 April 2016

Relatives of an ex-steel worker affected by Alzheimer’s have paid tribute to a Wellbeing Centre for helping him ‘come to life’ and have a ‘whale of a time’. 


Gordon Parsons, of Frecheville, visits Age UK Sheffield’s Wellbeing Centre, which is based in Norfolk Heritage Park, twice a week. On Thursdays he receives a funded place, while the family self-funds a second day on a Tuesday.


Sheffield-born Gordon trained as a metallurgist, worked as a foreman at steel works and later in personnel in the industry before retiring at 58.


Now in his eighties and having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s shortly before the death of his wife, the Wellbeing Centre placements are providing his family with peace of mind and reassurance.


Jon and Gordon Parsons



His son Jon Parsons said: “When we first looked around the Wellbeing Centre it seemed ideal because Dad was always a very sociable person – he had a lot of friends and entertained a lot at home.


“While Dad is out of the house he becomes sociable again. Getting him out of the house is not always easy because he can’t be rushed and has his routines, but once he is at the Centre he comes to life.


“If there are ladies around he might even have a little flirt! And he’s got his jokes he likes to tell.


“He gets a meal at the Wellbeing Centre so we know he’s eating, too – in the past he’s told carers at home he’s not hungry or will eat later.


“After he had been going to the Centre for a few weeks his sister - my aunt Doreen - and I went with him. Doreen used to be the head of a care home and wanted to see for herself what the Wellbeing Centre was like.


“It was interesting for me because we both know how tricky it is to get dad to go anywhere new and we both watched him just walk in, grab his usual chair and start reading the paper, before asking one of the staff for a cup of tea! 


“The activities at the Centre are never forced, people aren’t corralled into doing anything and it’s not patronising. But they do encourage Dad to get involved in things. As a result, Doreen could see what a good place it was.


“Dad knows the Centre and knows it’s a comforting and safe place.  We see a different side to him that we don’t see at home. He has a whale of a time.


“Natasha Wilson is the wellbeing assistant coordinator at the Centre and has been brilliant. She often emails us updates of what Dad has been up to that day with videos and photos.


“She has also been great at providing reassurance and suggestions, too – for example at Christmas we took Dad out and he seemed confused and not engaged with anything or anyone. We shared our concerns with Natasha and she explained to us that he was out of his comfort zone in a noisy place and reminded us of how important regularity, familiarity and his set patterns are to him. He has those routines and they keep him happy and content.


“She understands Dad and his needs and has been a great support to us as a family in planning ahead for his health and wellbeing needs.”


Scores of people living with debilitating memory loss visit the Wellbeing Centre each week providing a place for them to explore new interests and activities and talk to other people going through a similar experience.


People who have places at the Centre also get access to the one-to-one Age UK Sheffield Independent Living Coordination service, enabling people to be the architect of their own lives and live life to the full, at and beyond the Centre.


For further details, or to request a taster session at the Wellbeing Centre, call Age UK Sheffield on (0114) 250 2850.