Dorset care home builds 40-seat theatre to entertain residents

A family-run care home has built a 1930s-style theatre in its basement to allow residents to “enjoy the things they used to”.

Believed to be the first purpose-built theatre in a care home, the 40-seat venue cost about £30,000 and took nine months to construct.

The theatre in Burwood Nursing Home, Broadstone

Owner Paul Jessup, who runs Burwood Nursing Home in Broadstone with his wife Sarah, designed and built most of the theatre himself.

The couple had already built an on-site pub for residents to enjoy, and Jessup wanted to build the theatre to ensure residents had access to the arts.

Jessup said: “It is not easy for older people to get out to do things they used to do.

“I think music and song really inspires and stimulates people. People can sing along to a song they know from years ago, but not know much about what is happening today, especially if they have dementia.”

He added: “We do take our residents to the theatre, and they love it, but not everyone is able to go.

“Now they can go for a drink in our pub before going to the fully wheelchair-accessible theatre in our home.”

Jessup said that a lot of care homes either could not afford to build such a facility, or would “not want to afford it”.

He said: “A lot of new care homes are being built by corporations, and a theatre does not make money.

“But for us it is all about enjoying your job. We like to do those things and we like to see our residents enjoy themselves.”

He added: “You should not lose access to these things, it is something people enjoy and people’s lives have revolved around it.

“Just because you are old does not mean you should be cut off.”

Jessup said he hopes to encourage groups from the local community, amateur dramatics groups, tribute acts from the 1950s and 1960s and local schools to perform to the residents.

He said: “I’m looking for people who can perform old-fashioned kinds of shows. It’s the kind of thing that gets lost.“

He added: “The residents were all asking about the theatre as it was being built and are really excited about it.”

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