INSPECTORS have commended staff at a dementia respite facility for their "hard work and commitment" while the service was being relocated.

Anam Cara - Gaelic for 'soul friend' - was temporarily moved from its usual home in Kilbirnie to Beith to enable the completion of refurbishment work.

The local authority-run service provides respite for up to 14 adults and older people who have dementia and following an unannounced visit by the Care Inspectorate in February, the manager, staff team and council have been praised for their efforts in ensuring a smooth transition.

In its first inspection for almost five years, the service was given 'very good' ratings for the quality of its support for people's wellbeing and for its leadership, as the inspection report noted that guests are made to feel "welcomed and valued" thanks to the "relaxed, friendly and homely atmosphere" created by all staff.

Key messages from the inspection included: "We received extremely positive feedback from relatives about much they appreciated the short respite breaks provided by the service and how valuable this was to them.

"We observed the manager and senior staff dealing with relatives and new guests with great care and compassion, providing reassurance and comfort at such a stressful and anxious time."

The report said: "The facilities at Taigh Mor had been vacant for some time but were previously utilised as a respite facility for people with learning disabilities.

"However, with some adaptation, the council has managed to continue to provide this very valuable and needed service to older people with dementia in the community.

"We would commend the manager, the staff team and council for their commitment and hard work in making this transition happen.

"This was achieved under challenging and demanding circumstances, whilst being able to continue to provide this important and valuable service to support people with dementia and their relatives in the community."

The report added: "During this inspection, we observed a caring and compassionate level of leadership in action when dealing with relatives, professionals and staff.

"There was an obvious passion for supporting and helping people in the community dealing with dementia, whilst ensuring that standards were also maintained."

North Ayrshire health and social care partnership (HSCP) said the dementia respite service was relocated in January this year and is expected to reopen to guests in the summer after refurbishment work was delayed slightly due to "unforeseen circumstances".

A spokesperson for the HSCP said: “We are delighted to have been able to provide this vital community support service at Taigh Mor in the meantime and would like to thank the Anam Cara staff and management team - as well as everyone involved in the relocation of the service - for their fantastic work in such challenging circumstances.

“To receive such a positive report from the Care Inspectorate that recognises the quality of the care being provided and positive outcomes for people is testament to the hard work and dedication of staff, and we look forward to welcoming guests back to the improved Anam Cara site once the works have been completed.”