Specialist dementia care provider, Belong Newcastle-under-Lyme, has named leading dementia expert, Caroline Baker as head of dementia and care quality, a newly created role with a focus on driving the not-for-profit organisation’s dementia strategy and advancing its track record for quality at the Lower Street care village.
Belong’s nationally and internationally acclaimed village model was developed to transform outcomes for people living with dementia, through its innovative approach to building design, living arrangements, services, training and ethos. It provides an Admiral Nurse service to support customers diagnosed with dementia and their families, and all its villages and home care services are rated Good or Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.
The synergy between this and Caroline’s experience as a staunch advocate for people with dementia made her a natural appointment to Belong’s senior team. Her career spans three decades, during which time she has been instrumental in championing change to traditional approaches to dementia care and in developing progressive dementia strategies. In 2014, she won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Dementia Care Awards.
“When I began my career as a Registered Mental Health Nurse, working in hospital wards, it was evident that this field of care desperately needed to change,” said Caroline.
“Back then, it wasn’t a good outlook for people living with dementia, so I decided to make it my mission to prove that it’s possible for people to have an active and fulfilling life and continue contributing to society.”
Caroline developed a number of dementia care models whilst working as director of dementia care at Barchester Healthcare and Four Seasons Health Care. Her work has been published in academic papers, and she is the author of an Amazon top-selling book “Developing Excellent Care for People Living with Dementia in Care Homes”.
Speaking of the appointment, Belong Chief Executive, Martin Rix, said: “Caroline is a natural fit for Belong and we are delighted to welcome her to the team. Her values, calibre and passion shine through and we believe she will help us remain at the forefront of providing quality services to our customers.”
Caroline also holds a postgraduate diploma in geriatric medicine along with a master’s degree (MSc) in management research. Earlier in her career, she worked as a clinical specialist in dementia care, provided training within the healthcare sector and social services, and was offered a prestigious scholarship award to represent nursing professionals at MGM University in Kerala, where she taught alongside medical consultants about dementia care.
Her appointment to Belong comes as it gears up to open a new care village in Birkdale early in 2024. It also follows the launch of the North West’s first care facility with an integrated children’s nursery, Belong Chester, which opened earlier this year. Caroline will be working as part of Belong’s senior team, tasked with devising strategy across its eight established villages and Belong at Home domiciliary care service, continuing to advance Belong’s dementia care provision.
Caroline added: “I am both delighted and excited to have joined Belong. Its model of care is really innovative and it is very apparent that colleagues are keen to further develop to ensure the best possible outcomes for all customers, whether they live in the village or the wider community.”