Care home chain's revamp to create 45 new positions in Northern Ireland
A UK care home firm will create up to 45 jobs as part of a £300,000 revamp to its three most recently-acquired Northern Ireland homes.
Runwood Care Homes runs 67 residential homes across the UK - eight of which are in Northern Ireland - and cares for 4,000 residents.
The three care homes are Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen, Ard Mhacha Care Home in Armagh and Geanann Care Home in Dungannon.
All three residences had been previously run by Countrywide Care Homes, a sister company of Leeds-based Maria Mallaband Care Group, but were taken over by Runwood in August in a deal led by advisers O'Kane Commercial.
The UK firm - which also has a division in Northern Ireland - has said it will increase the number of rooms in the homes by opening up previously unused wings at the sites.
Plans are also in place to open free-to-use cafes in each of the three centres, and the company will also launch a community allotments scheme which will allow members of the public and residents to transform part of the care homes' grounds into gardens.
Extra nurses and dementia support will be required as part of the changes. And the firm will also up-skill its existing workforce in partnership with Oriel Training.
Runwood Care Homes operational director John Rafferty said he believes the additional facilities will help residents with dementia.
"Those residents who lived very sustainably in the past will get to restore some of that sense of self - it helps them to get into the fresh air, builds their appetite and restores a feeling of self-worth and traditional values," he said.
The cafes have already been introduced to most of the chain's other UK care homes.
Mr Rafferty said: "The cafes will have a very relaxed, Parisian street cafe feel and will offer free tea and coffee.
"It's to offer a relaxed environment to allow greater social interaction between residents, their family members and care providers."
The chain also runs one of six cares homes across the UK involved in a study into dementia care led by the Royal College of Nursing. The care homes will remain open while the work takes place. In March, the firm opened an 80-bed home in Glengormley.