Work is underway on a pioneering £3 million care complex that will create 30 new jobs in Gwynedd.
The 16 companion living apartments being built by the award-winning Pendine Park care organisation on the outskirts Caernarfon will be the first of their kind in Wales.
The Parc Bryn Seiont development is going next door to the company’s centre of excellence for dementia care, Bryn Seiont Newydd, which opened last November.
The two-bedroom apartments have been specifically designed to enable couples to stay together when one of them has dementia and needs care.
When they’re open next summer, it will take the total number of people employed by Pendine Park on the site to 140 and the total investment to £10 million.
The concept was explained to Arfon AM Sian Gwenllian and Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth by proprietor Mario Kreft MBE who took them on the guided tour of the scheme.
Sian Gwenllian said: “It’s certainly something that is the way forward. It’s very interesting to see that Caernarfon is leading the way in this kind of development.
“It’s an incredibly sad thing when couples are split up when one of them is ill so anything that can keep people together as long as possible is more beneficial to everyone in the end.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Rhun ap Iorwerth who said: “The ageing population is going to present us with different challenges and one of the things we have to do as we show respect for our older people, is to try to keep couples together.
“What they have here at Parc Seiont is a pioneering idea to keep couples together or even reunite them – and give the highest quality of life possible to people.
“There is a duty on Government to help to make it work out because if there is a model here which is successful then this is the kind of thing that we’ll need more and more of in years to come.”
The AMs also went to see staff and residents at the original dementia centre, Bryn Seiont Newydd.
Mr ap Iorwerth said: “Bryn Seiont is a valuable resource and we should promote the best practice and high standards seen here.”
Ms Gwenllian added: “The facilities at Bryn Seiont Newydd are fantastic and there’s a lot of thought gone into the design that is specially tailored for people with dementia.”
Mario Kreft was grateful to the AMs for taking time out of their busy schedules to come on a visit.
He said: “The companion care living apartments are a new concept here in Wales.
“They have been designed for couples or even siblings or friends where particularly one of them might need a great deal of care and the other
“We’re looking to open next summer, and that will be in addition to the 71 beds we have at Bryn Seiont Newydd.
“We see Parc Bryn Seiont as being a very valuable new addition to services in the area and early indications are that people are very interested in the concept.
“If and when needed, the people living in the apartments will have access to the high end services provided next door in Bryn Seiont Newydd.
“Because the idea is so new we will be having some open days later on in the year where we can explain to people exactly what we’re doing.
“It will take our total investment in this site to around £10 million and it’s going to make the site a very significant care community for North West Wales.
“We’re all being asked to create new services and to make people be more independent.
“The companion living apartments will enable carers to live with their loves ones and have access to support 24/7 if and when they need it, as well as access to respite care.
“If needed, there will also be a restaurant, housekeeping services, laundry services and so forth, and really importantly the opportunity to be able to engage socially in our arts enrichment programme.
“The apartments are going to be very luxurious and spacious, way over what you might expect, and will incorporate dementia-friendly technology so the lights will go on automatically if somebody gets out bed in the middle of the night.
“We think by investing in North West Wales and in services people need that the investment will be recognised as being very valuable to the area.”