A pioneering research project aimed at helping people with dementia has been unveiled.

Medway Community Healthcare (MCH) is part of a pan-European research which has enabled them to open Harmony House in Rochester.

Harmony House in Pattens Lane, Rochester. Picture: Phil Lee.

Harmony House in Pattens Lane, Rochester. Picture: Phil Lee.

The 20-bed guesthouse at ourZone in Pattens Lane, was officially opened at a ceremony yesterday (Friday, October 4).

Ten of the beds - which will be used by early onset dementia patients in need of respite care - will be part of the research project which was funded by the EU's Interreg 2 Seas programme.

The project, called CASCADE, involves ten partners around Europe. The €9 million scheme aims to provide training for 2,500 staff and care for 2,700 patients.

Martin Riley, managing director of MCH, said: "There's two parts: there's a contribution towards funding and the second is shared learning.

"The model is not just a UK model; (we are) recognising that dementia is a worldwide issue.

Cllr Vince Maple, who opened Harmony House, is shown around the unit by manager Jo Wood. Picture: Phil Lee.

Cllr Vince Maple, who opened Harmony House, is shown around the unit by manager Jo Wood. Picture: Phil Lee.

"Some of our specialist dementia nurses have been over to a dementia village in Holland to see how they designed that and what services they offer."

There's also a focus on technology; one of the features of the guesthouse are motion sensors which track the movement of the patient and also analyse their risk of falls.

Other features include dementia-friendly furnishings, handrails and easy access en-suite toilets.

Support workers act like the patient's personal assistant who are tasked with promoting the person's independence and normal life.

Laarni Fajardo, clinical service manager and one of the specialist dementia nurses, explains: "It's a respite facility like a hotel, your home away from home.

"If a guest comes in here on a Monday, and will stay until Friday, we'll say, 'Shall we plan what we're going to eat?' because if you're at home, you're going to cook and do the shopping anyway. So the personal assistants will be supporting them.

"Or on a Friday if they like to go for fish and chips we'll say, 'Let's go to the nearby pub.'

"In here we'd really like to promote social integration wherein they should still be able to access community facilities and still feel very much part of the community.

"Whatever they're doing at home, we promote normality and independence."

There are different packages available according to the duration of the stay and the person's needs.

Anyone who is interested can fill out an inquiry form online, or by calling .