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Extraordinary Care Home Manager grants Father George’s wish to meet Pope Francis

Published on 22nd May 2018

At Whitby Dene Care Home in Middlesex there is a very special Wishing Tree. Residents can wish for anything and the extraordinary team working at the home will do everything in their power to make it come true.

Father George travels to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis

Father George, a Roman Catholic priest of over 50 years moved into Whitby Dene after being diagnosed with dementia. The staff at the home like to make every effort to help their residents settle in so took it upon themselves to learn about the Catholic faith. The Home Manager, Saad Baig, attended local church services and arranged for Father George to continue to be able to give blessings at the home.

Over the course of his lifetime, Father George had spent a lot of time in Rome and at the Vatican. His faith and love of the city made making a wish easy - Father George wished to travel to the Vatican once more and meet Pope Francis.

As you can imagine, making this wish a reality was no easy feat. Saad, got in touch with the Cardinal of England and explained Father George’s wish. He also assisted Father George in writing a letter to his Holiness requesting a blessing. After several weeks, phone calls and a medical with Father George’s GP the confirmation came through that the Vatican had granted Father George’s wish.

Father George, who is living with dementia, often struggles with his day-to-day memory, however when he arrived in Rome and saw the view from his hotel room, he knew exactly where he was and even explained to the care home team about the significance of the statues and the different robes worn by those at the Vatican.

Whitby Dene home manager, Saad Baig, said: “Residents are at the heart of everything we do here at Care UK, and our wishing tree is a fantastic way to understand what’s really important to residents – and help them to make their dreams come true. This was no ordinary wish, but we were determined to take on the challenge and are thrilled we could make this a reality for Father George."

“It was an honour to travel to the Vatican with Father George and to meet with the Pope. Father George has fond memories of Rome so it was a great place for him to reminisce, which is so important for people living with dementia. It was incredible to see him light up, he was thrilled to meet the Pope. It was a wonderful experience for everyone involved and I am so pleased we were able to make Father George’s wish come true.”

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