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Thanks for the memories as funeral directors support residents


Nov 12, 2019 #Business, #Darlington

A FUNERAL director is helping people with dementia tap into their memories after joining a family firm which prides itself on being at the heart of the community.

John Watling has been working with nursing homes in Darlington to help residents recall their pasts using games and music.

Darlington-born and bred and with 25 years’ experience, Mr Watling has just joined Whitehouse Funeral Services, which has branches in Cockerton and Newton Aycliffe.

“Dementia is such an awful condition but we are having some success with residents by taking them back to their youth,” he said.

“Music is a very powerful medium for triggering memories and we have many examples of people being brought out of their shells by playing the right tunes. Talk of outside toilets and Izal toilet rolls also gets them remembering.”

He said many of the nursing homes’ activities co-ordinators shared the same problems of a lack of funds for equipment so they had formed the Darlington Activities Fundraising Team. This was organising quiz nights, Motown and Ska music events at Cockerton Club to raise money for games.

Whitehouse Funeral Services managing director John Whitehouse said: “We have always been at the heart of the community helping people through very difficult times. It is great to be able to give something back by helping people in nursing homes.”

The company is also trying to raise awareness in the community about the growing issue of funeral poverty.

Mr Whitehouse said: “In the past people tended to save and plan for their funeral expenses but currently ‘a live for today’ mentality is prevalent. If a family can’t afford a funeral there is a perception that the council or hospital will pay. But they don’t have the funds either.

“We are looking at ways to raise funds for situations like these if people meet certain criteria.”

Whitehouse Funeral Services is also organising a Christmas memorial service at Holy Family Church on December 3, at 7pm, for people to remember their loved ones. Church of England, Catholic, Methodist and Celebrant representatives will take part  the service.

By French