Japanese academics and care professionals visited Belong’s most recently opened care village, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, to see how Japan’s growing care sector can benefit from insights into the organisation’s specialist model of dementia care, which is unique in the UK.
The group, led by Associate Professor at Osaka City University Graduate School of Business Takaya Kawamura was joined by local MP Paul Farrelly on a tour of the £13.5m care village development, including the Belong Heritage Gallery.
Made possible by a £1.8 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Belong Heritage Gallery was created by transforming Newcastle-under-Lyme’s oldest building into a centre for world-leading dementia care. It also charts the building’s 350-year history, which includes being a potters, a coaching inn and famous 80s nightclub, Maxims.
During the visit, Belong Chief Executive Tracey Stakes spoke about the organisation’s ethos and village model.
Each Belong village incorporates 24-hour care households, offering around-the-clock nursing and dementia care, as well as apartments for independent living, centred around a village hub with amenities including a bistro, hair salon and exercise studio. These facilities are accessible to the local community as well as village residents.
Commenting on the visit, Professor Kawamura said: “It was very interesting to see a Belong village in action. Insights into the unique model of care will be invaluable to members of our party, who will apply this knowledge when planning to meet Japan’s future care requirements.”
Paul Farrelly MP said: “It’s great to see the Maxims building, which has played such a significant role in the heritage of the local area, brought back to life – I’ve been following the project with interest since the early planning stages. It's also encouraging to observe Belong driving standards in the care sector, particularly for people living with dementia.”
Japan has a decreasing population, with a growing proportion of older people. Therefore, academics and care professionals are looking at international models of care to see what the country can learn, as its care requirements look set to increase significantly in future years.