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West Belfast care home brings `joy back' for residents by building in-house pub

Thomas and Eileen Stewart, who live in Our Lady's Home and have been married for 62 years, enjoyed their first date night in 18 years in the new Giant's Foot Pub which has just opened in the care home
Marie Louise McConville

A west Belfast care home has brought the "joy back" to its residents after a tough 19 months by building them their own in-house pub.

The team at Our Lady's Home on the Falls Road, which is currently home to 66 residents, took two months to plan and build the Giant's Foot Pub.

The fully equipped bar stocks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as well as a range of bar snacks.

It is also set up so residents can play darts, chess and poker.

Margaret McGeown, Assistant Manager of Our Lady's Home in west Belfast, playing darts with the residents

Residents leaving their rooms to go to the pub can also order food with the kitchen laying on speciality dishes including Guinness Pie.

No money exchanges hands during the visits to the pub as the home provides the beverages, stocking up on beers and wine, as well as soft drinks.

However, residents can also ask for something from their own stock.

The alcohol, which is kept in a lockable fridge, is served by staff, allowing them to keep an eye on the levels of intake.

Isabel Neves, Manager of Our Lady's Home, which is run by the Macklin Care Home group, said the idea behind the pub was to "bring some joy" to the residents after "such a horrible time" as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and related lock-downs.

Isabel said the pub, which can be accessed by all residents, had been built in a room at the entrance of the general nursing unit thanks to the home's "amazing" maintenance team.

"It took us about two months to put it together," she said.

"It was all hands on deck".

Isabel said previous to the bar opening, residents could have enjoyed a drink in their own bedroom but now can enjoy their favourite tipple "with others".

"We keep an eye on the alcohol intake, as we always did before," she said.

"Now, they have a proper place to do it. They feel they are out".

Among the residents who have enjoyed the new bar is couple Eileen and Thomas Stewart.

Married for 62 years, the pair enjoyed their first `Date Night' in 18 years in the Giant's Foot Pub in recent days.

Isabel said: "It is about the feeling of going out of their units, their bedrooms.

"I haven't seen them this happy in a long time. Having a wee drink, a wee chat. They had the feeling they were out in the pub somewhere."

Isabel said Friday afternoons are busiest in the pub as residents gather to socialise during the horse racing, which is shown on the TV.

The manager added: "We are very committed to improving our resident's experience in the home, this is their home".

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