Northern Ireland care home residents say cheers with in-house bar
Residents at a Co Antrim care home have been enjoying front row action of all of this summer's big sporting events from the comfort of their new in-house bar.
The Albert Arms officially opened at Carrickfergus Manor on June 21.
Since then it has been providing residents with a place to relax, unwind and "have a cold one" as they took in all the best moments from the World Cup, Wimbledon and The Open.
The themed room is a home-from-home and is decorated with rugby, football, ice hockey and other sporting memorabilia donated by Carrickfergus Rugby Club, Linfield FC and the Belfast Giants.
Representatives from all three attended last month's official opening.
Carrickfergus Manor provides care for 90 older people, including those living with dementia.
Staff say many of the residents have been using the bar to follow their favourite sports, and that it is all part of maintaining their links with the local community.
The bar is named after Carrickfergus Manor's maintenance man Albert Crosbie.
He was the first employee of the home when it opened in 2013 and still works there.
General manager Joanne Neville explained the concept.
"We have been seeing more and more male residents being admitted to Carrickfergus Manor and we found they did not want to leave their rooms or be involved in a lot of the activities within the home," she said.
"Male residents were asked what they would like to see within the home and some reported they used to play different sports and still had an interest."
With fundraising and kind donations of furniture, staff started putting together the new bar.
The Albert Arms is open to any resident with an interest in sports.
Since it began operating, it has also been used for events such as birthday parties and family get-togethers.
Ms Neville said the response to date had been very positive from residents, their families and friends who have been using the hostelry.
"Residents are brought up to the bar during important football matches, rugby matches, during Wimbledon and any other sporting events," she said.
"Relatives and other visitors can also bring residents to the bar.
"We are finding that the residents are more content and relaxed after leaving the bar.
"They are now engaging more in other activities outside the bar, which is very positive."
Stephen Beckett, the home's ambassador, commended the staff for their innovative work to create the facility.
"Although it's sports in the sense of football and golf, the bar has got many purposes and uses," he explained.
"With the World Cup, Wimbledon and Open on, it has primarily been the men who have been using it.
"It's another great initiative by staff at Carrickfergus Manor, providing independent natural daily activities to residents that they would have enjoyed in their normal life.
"You can see that not only is it a positive thing for the residents, it's also useful for the relatives who can come and spend quality time with them."