The sensory garden at Fernhill House was opened to the public at the weekend – as part of the wider Fernhill Heath Open Gardens event.   

Visitors were offered tea and cakes made by award winning chef Chris Williams – and offered local ice creams from the home’s own vintage bicycle stall.   

Hospitality manager Chris, who has worked with Marco Pierre White and Heston Blumenthal has appeared on MasterChef and has won AA rosettes and culinary accolades aplenty over the course of his 25-year career.   

Chris, whose is a huge fan of organic, home grown and locally sourced food, grows his own veg from seed at Fernhill House which he uses where possible in the meals he cooks for residents.   

The sensory garden, part of the wider two-acre grounds at Fernhill House, is one of many stimulating and unusual features at the home which, when at full capacity, will accommodate 36 people living with dementia and 30 frail elderly people.   

The dementia community also has a pub, shop and indoor potting shed and staff dress informally in 1950s and 60s clothing.   

An unusual all inclusive price package means residents can invite friends and family to dine with them as often as they like at no extra cost. The same goes for drinks in the bar, and tea and cakes in the bistro. The beauty therapists, chiropodist and hairdresser all have experience of working with people with dementia.   

Fernhill House manager Peta Mandleberg, a registered nurse who has worked in the care sector for many years, said: “It was a wonderful afternoon. Our different approach to helping people enjoy their later years includes ensuring that the home is part of the wider community. 

"As well as encouraging friends and family to join their loved ones for dinner, we hold regular free evening talks often by well-known celebrities, which are open to anyone who’d like to come along. The open gardens event gave us a chance to share our beautiful grounds with a wider audience and also to ensure they felt welcome within the Fernhill House community.”