Northern Ireland & Scotland Visit’s

Good trip to Northern Ireland last week. Visited our homes in Enniskillen, Armagh, Dungannon and Bangor. Heather is doing a great job managing our home in Enniskillen, in what is a difficult market there.

Our new manager in Dungannon, Claire, is newly promoted but very enthusiastic and full of new ideas. It was refreshing to see how she is improving a care home that has desperately lacked in leadership in the past.

Oakmont Lodge, our newly built home in Bangor, still continues to fill up way ahead of expectations. Jill Shearer, our Senior Operations Manager, has done a great job there to get the home off to the best possible start.

Long day in Scotland last Friday. Up at 4.00a.m., home at 10.00p.m. 3 meetings and visited all 5 homes, which looked very impressive after their refurbishments. Well done to Michael Doolin, our Area Manager for Scotland and N.I.

Occupancy in 2 homes still down, but we know the reason why (nothing to do with us) and we are dealing with it.

Bought a former care home in Bedfordshire to convert to a house for Autism Care. Ideal base for our project and will make a great unit.

Out with potential investors tomorrow followed by a relatively quiet week thereafter, two dinners to attend but otherwise in and around the office.

Holiday next week then back into the fray!

Caring For People With Dementia

It’s vital that those who live with dementia receive great care, whether that comes from families, friends, carers or doctors. Once dementia progresses it can be difficult for everyone involved, but great care can have an impact which is impossible to over-state. For those who live with the illness, receiving the best care possible means they’re able to maintain their dignity and quality of life for as long as possible.

Care Homes

Great carers really do make all the difference. Maria Mallaband’s care homes specialise in helping those who have been diagnosed with a dementia related illness. These homes aim to provide a safe and comfortable environment for residents by employing and developing specialist staff members that are available 24 hours a day to give treatment and offer extra support to residents.

The Water Royd House Nursing Home in Gilroyd, a small village near to Barnsley town centre, is great example of a home that understands the nature of dementia and excels at delivering outstanding care. Louise Parker, the Deputy Manager and Dementia Champion for her area, is a dedicated professional who has worked at Water Royd House for 13 years making a huge difference in the lives of residents.

Wateroyd House

“I know when the all staff go home after work they can whole-heatedly say they have given it their all and helped our residents to the best of their ability. Through the hard work the staff and I are conducting at Water Royd House our residents can be assured that they are in the best of hands. This also has the knock on effect of giving their loved ones peace of mind.” Louise states.

Louise says that all the staff at Water Royd House above all else “aim to ensure their residents are treated with dignity, pride, and respect. Each person under our care is different and therefore we need to tailor our approach for their needs. We try to offer bespoke, personalised, care to make sure our residents get the help they need.”

Quality care stems from understanding and knowledge. A great way of giving personalised care is to understand the role friends and family have in the lives of our residents. Louise encourages her staff members to find out as much as they can about their residents. Staff members who know about the life experiences of those under their care are able to create a strong rapport and a trusting relationship with their residents. “Knowing what the resident was like pre-dementia is so important to finding about their past. This helps create a real connection between ourselves and the people we help.”


It is through speaking to experts in dementia that I have found the care received in hospitals can be very different than that received in a care home. For those with dementia, it can be a daunting experience entering a foreign environment like a hospital.

Coming into contact with different members of staff throughout the day may leave those with memory impairment feeling vulnerable, isolated and confused. This is a recurring problem for those who live with dementia when placed into hospital environments.

Peter from The Alzheimer’s Society explains that “the big issue for hospitals is that people are admitted to them not because they have dementia but because something else is wrong like a heart attack, a stroke, a broken leg or whatever else. Staff members on the wards are broadly able to deal with the reason for admission but struggle with the dementia. Members of staff from consultants down to ancillary staff need to be better trained and be better aware of dementia as a disease (commensurate with what they do) and what it means for the person who has it”.

Barbara Hodkinson is the Founder and Coordinator of The Butterfly Scheme a charity that aims to educate hospital staff members who are unaware of the consequences misjudged interaction with those who live with memory impairment can have. Barbara is an example of the incredible passion and desire exemplified by those who want to help in the fight against dementia. Her mother suffers with dementia, and Barbara has chosen to dedicate her life to educate, help and support those who need it most, using her background as a secondary schoolteacher to her advantage.

Butterfly Scheme

“After witnessing the well-meaning but inappropriate care given to my mother whilst in hospital I analysed what staff needed to know and how it could be efficiently taught to them.” Barbara explains.

The scheme is “based around how to approach someone with memory impairment, how to undertake procedures with them, how to use their immediate environment to its best advantage, things to look out for even though nobody may have flagged them up and the whole topic of information exchange.”

Barbara says that, “so much of what seems hard to achieve is actually very achievable if it’s approached strategically.  When hospital staff members see how everything changes for the better because of their new skills, they love delivering appropriate dementia care – so everyone wins. Once someone’s dementia progresses, it can be very hard for them to recognise or express their own needs, so those of us who can help need to do it on their behalf – although we must always acknowledge the fabulous input of lots of wonderful campaigners who live with dementia and are able to achieve great things.”

People who help those with dementia need to understand that delicate situations need to be dealt with sensitively. Carers who help people with mobility problems, getting dressed and washing have to remember that they are encroaching upon the private and personal space of another person. It can be a situation that incites aggressive behaviour, at these moments mood swings may become more prevalent too. This could lead to making withdrawn, sad or frightened behaviour. The Butterfly Scheme has helped hospital workers in this respect.

“One very noticeable change has been that the rate of so-called “aggressive incidents” often drops dramatically once The Butterfly Scheme is in place. That’s because they were never aggressive incidents at all; they were incidents where inappropriate staff input had terrified the patient, which had never been the intention.” This just goes to show how important it is to implement the right strategy when caring for those with dementia and how great care can change the outlook of the situation for both parties.

Author: Phil Burgan


Having worked in the care industry for seventeen years I have been witness to dementia taking loved ones away from their family and friends. I have made it one of my goals to do what I can to help those who suffer from this condition.

Speaking to charities that focus on dementia research, care and support such as Alzheimer’s Research UK, The Butterfly Scheme, and The Alzheimer’s Society has taught me so much about dementia that I feel the need to share. The incredible work these charities are doing to promote better understanding and prevention of dementia within the UK is astounding.

Being born and raised in Yorkshire I have taken an interest in what my local community has been doing to help support those who live with dementia, how they are raising awareness about the illness, and what I can do to help.

Public awareness has risen dramatically over the past few years and we are already beginning to see the benefits although there is still work to be done. Speaking to Peter Ruckbie, the Support Service Manager for the Alzheimer’s Society, has really opened my eyes to the superb work his charity is doing in the fight against dementia.

The Alzheimer's Society


Peter told me that the Alzheimer’s Society has committed to a five year strategy based around their service framework that covers all areas of their operations including staff and volunteers.

The five year plan prioritises “getting [those who need it] an early diagnosis, the availability of support and services for people with dementia and their carers, the availability of accurate and up-to-date information about what is available for people with dementia and their carers, research into the causes of dementia, medication [that could help those with] dementia and a cure for the illness, campaigning over a number of areas like hospital care, care in care homes, home care services, the use of anti-psychotic medication to name but a few issues.”

One of the main ways The Alzheimer’s Society are able to cover so much is because of the tireless fundraising that they, and members of the public, undertake.

“The Society fundraises all over the country in a variety of ways, from supporters having coffee mornings through to significant partnership arrangements with large organisations like Tesco and Argos. Legacies are also an important area of fundraising for us. We would not be able to accomplish anything like what we do at the moment without the fundraising efforts of all of the people who help and support us.” Peter says.

Perhaps the most recognised fundraising activity The Alzheimer’s Society participates in is called the Memory Walk. Every September the Alzheimer’s Society works in partnership with Bupa Cares by hosting a series of fundraising walking events taking place across the UK. All the proceeds go towards supporting those who live with dementia and funding their research to find a cure.

The Leeds Memory Walk was this year’s flagship event for Yorkshire, it took place at Harewood House on Sunday 1 September.

Anyone can take part in memory walks whether they have been directly affected by dementia or not. “Those living with dementia take part in Memory Walks as do their families, friends, carers and people who work and volunteer in the health and social care sector.” It is an excellent way of promoting what The Alzheimer’s Society is doing whist also raising public awareness within local communities.

“The Framework also gives a clear picture of what the Society must be doing as a priority for people with dementia, what it should do, what it might do perhaps in partnership with other organisations and what it can best leave to other organisations (often smaller and locally based ones) to do.”

Author: Phil Burgan

The Volvo in Action!

I’ve been sent some photos from Bogdan in the Ukraine, who came out to take some photos of one of our rally stages, he then tracked down this blog and sent me the pictures!

The car not quite hitting the apex, but doing well for a 50 year old Volvo with bodged-together suspension!

The car not quite hitting the apex, but doing well for a 50 year old Volvo with bodged-together suspension!

Powering away out of a tight right-hander.

Powering away out of a tight right-hander.

Thanks for the pictures Bogdan! Glad you enjoyed the rally.

Author: Phil Burgan

My 1959 Volvo

If you’ve checked my blog recently, you’ll have seen that I just completed the Peking to Paris rally in a 1959 Volvo. It was a pretty tough challenge, but we (somehow) got there!

For those interested, here are some more images of the car we did it in before we left. Keep scrolling down to see what it looked like after 13,000km. For all the repairs we had to do, it could have been a lot worse.

Phil Burgan’s Volvo

Author: Phil Burgan

Peking to Paris – Part Deux

Hi! Just in case you don’t know; I’m Phil Burgan – chairman and CEO of Maria Mallaband Care Group. I’ve just completed the Peking to Paris classic car rally. It’s a highly-prestigious rally in which competitors drive classic cars from Peking (now Beijing) to Paris, travelling through the Gobi desert, Mongolia, Russia and across Europe.

My co-driver and navigator John Wright and I have been driving it in a 1959 Volvo. Though an old car it’s seen us well! I’ve written a blog post about the first half of the trip which you can read here, and here’s the final half of the trip. I hope you enjoy!

Day 20 came and we were in Russia, relaxing by the Volga River. The Volga is generally viewed as Russia’s national river, it’s a total of 2,294 miles long and is the longest river in Europe. After driving the car faster than what it’s really capable of, we stopped and enjoyed Samara. It was surprisingly good weather, and we even enjoyed the sun at the side of the Volga!

The next day was tough. Russia is far hotter than expected, and on day 21 it reached 38°C. In Russia! The roads were very rutted and windy, and all of us are still thinking about Emma. Everyone’s thoughts are still with her family, and it’s a reminder to be safe on these poor roads.

The hotel was pretty rough and far too hot – it was hotter with the window open, which made sleeping hard. Still, we had good spirits, and Andy Ackerman (head of the mechanics crew) even played guitar for us at the hotel.

Russia was a tough country to drive in, with pot holes, wind and the Police (we were stopped five times whilst driving in Russia) all to contend with. It’s safe to say we weren’t too sad to be leaving, and were much more hopeful for neighbouring Ukraine.

The Ukraine leg of the tour started in Kharkiv, and would go from Kharkiv to Kiev – a total of 301 miles in a day. This is no mean feat, especially on the tough Eastern-European roads, however the roads were far better than the Russian ones we had dealt with over the days prior to the Ukraine, so we were happy. We were 27th overall and 13th in the time standings which, to be honest, was disappointing. We had lost a lot of time due to earlier time penalties for lateness and car maintenance, but were slowly clawing our way back by overtaking the slower cars.


The Kharkiv to Kiev section was fun. The locals are very interested in the Rally, and lined the streets to wave and cheer as we drove past. It made the drive much more interesting and fun, and it was great to see the excitement for the cars was not just something people on the race had. These cars have stood up to a lot – far more than they were ever built for over 50 years ago – and though they may be finding it tough, it’s this passion that helps them (and us) get through it.

Kiev is a well-developed city with a population of 3.5 million. It really feels like a vibrant city with a lot of investment, and some of the shops show that. Louis Vuitton was just one luxury shop we saw, though there were countless others.

What you don’t realise is just how much of a strain the rally puts on you. It’s billed as an endurance rally, and the word “endurance” really plays a factor. I had a massage at the hotel (from someone who must have been a Russian shot-putter in a previous life) but it really did the trick. Driving all day and not getting enough sleep has really made me tense, but it’s good to have a day in Kiev soaking up the sights – including this fountain in independence square.

Kiev to Lviv was 362 miles, and we were met by a statue of a man on a horse killing a snake. Not entirely sure what it means, but it was interesting nonetheless!

Whilst driving the rally there is also “tests”. These are where you drive as fast as you can and try to make up some time on your competitors. They’re usually tougher than the roads, but undoubtedly fun. There was one of these when we first entered Slovakia on a closed mountain road. It was great fun!

Day 28 saw us take on four on and off road stages, as well as a track stage. These are important for your timing (and thus your overall and class position) so it’s important to get some clear air in front of you. Unfortunately we got held up a few times and lost around 15 seconds, but that’s racing.


 This photo by Gerard Brown shows us on day 28, driving through Bratislava on an off-road part of a stage.

Day 29 saw us tackle the Ennstal Classic hill climb with our very tired car. A 1959 Volvo wasn’t designed or built to race across such immensely tough conditions, so we’re very lucky it’s got so far. The further we go the more the car tires, to the point that we’re really struggling to get enough power on the uphill climbs and on day 30 we lost most of the electrics. Still, the old girl is going!

Travelling 7,312 miles in a car you see some amazing sights, and the pictures I’ve taken are definitely testament to that. This was taken in Switzerland after a cold, busy drive through heavy traffic.


This is from a balcony in Gstaad. Nice!


Eventually, finally, after 33 of the hardest days of my life, we made it to Paris. Just reaching the end was a huge effort and relief, and we managed to make it to 27th overall and 13th in class. Though good, had we not had the penalties we would have placed 5th overall and 2nd in class – much more what I was hoping for. Ah well.

I can honestly say it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. Driving on rutted, potholed roads, rocking up to camp in the evening, forgoing food or a shower in favour of fixing the car, working on it until midnight, going to sleep then getting up five hours later to do the exact same thing again for over a month is beyond what you could ever imagine.

I’m not sure if I would do it again. Or if I even enjoyed it. I am sure of two things though. The first is that my navigator John was an absolute rock during the drive, and I’m glad to say that 43 years of friendship hasn’t been destroyed by this incredibly tough journey!

The second is that we have raised £82,000 in online and offline donations for the Prince’s Charity whilst doing the drive. This is slightly down on our £100,000 target, however our Just Giving page is still open if you still wish to donate.

I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us. Without your help this wouldn’t have been possible, and I think we’re both glad we embarked on this journey but more glad it’s finally over!

Author: Phil Burgan

Danny Kent – the Season so Far

Just six races in, Danny Kent has taken a fantastic three points in the Moto 2 World Championship. The Phil Burgan Race Academy sponsored rider took his Mistral 610 Tech 3 bike to thirteenth place at the Catalunyan Grand Prix on Sunday, getting his first top fifteen finish and moving up to 22nd in the championship. We’re obviously delighted with his performance so far, and taking points only six races into the season (in a higher class no less) is brilliant.

Danny improved on his previous best finish of sixteenth at a rain-sodden French GP, and can really start to gain some momentum now he’s getting used to the bike. Since the Mugello Grand Prix he said “I found a really good feeling with the bike at the test in Mugello. It feels like a weight has been moved off my shoulders and now I need to build on this result and make sure I am challenging inside the top fifteen at every race.”

Danny’s performance has not just been noticed by us, but by people in the motorcycle industry as well;

“It’s great to see a rising star such as Danny Kent on the circuit. Sure he has had a couple of tough races but I can think of more experienced pros out there who are still waiting for a race that isn’t disappointment.” “He is building on where he was last race and if he can get the consistency then he will become a great asset to motorcycle racing” – Motorbike News

“Danny is an exceptionally talented rider with an obviously bright future ahead. He’s proved himself in the right categories which will hold him in good stead as his career develops.” “Danny has a mature head on his talented shoulders so I am sure he will want to prove himself in Moto 2 [before moving on to MotoGP]” – Bike Social’s Michael Mann

Still a rising star, Kent moved into the Moto 2 class this year from Moto 3 the previous year, where he got an excellent two first place finishes, as well as finishing fourth overall for the Moto 3 category.

Both the Phil Burgan Race Academy and Maria Mallaband Care Group are understandably very happy with his performance, and hope he can get some momentum behind him going into his home race in Silverstone in a couple of months’ time.

Author: Phil Burgan

Peking to Paris Rally

Welcome to my blog!

I’m Phil Burgan, the chairman and CEO of Maria Mallaband Care group. You can learn more about me here.

The Peking to Paris rally is a notoriously strenuous and difficult classic car rally in which many participants don’t make it. This year, I’m attempting it!

I’m currently making this epic journey with my co-driver and navigator John Wright. We’re driving a beautiful 1959 Volvo from Peking (now Beijing) to Paris through Mongolia, the Gobi Desert and Russia, amongst other places. In an attempt to finish we’ve been travelling between 350km and 750km a day in this! Thankfully we’ve got Mrs. Crimbles and Mattsupps to keep us going.

The car was prepared by RPS in Oxford, and rebuilt and reinforced prior to the event. Though a tough rally, I’m sure this will help her through.

Tom Post correct 1

The rally itself started in 1907 when French newspaper Le Matin challenged readers to drive from Peking to Paris. “Is there anyone who will agree to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?” read the headline, and with that the rally was born.

Just five teams took part in this first, historic rally – an Italian team, a Dutch team and three teams from France. It was won by Prince Scipione Borghese of Italy, and the prize? A magnum of Mumm champagne.

The route raced along a telegraph line and each team took a journalist, who relayed stories via the telegraphs regularly. Fuel was transported by camels, and there were no maps, no roads and no garages. Safe to say it was a tough ride!

Though done in “classic” cars today the first rally was done in cars far less suited to the harsh conditions. The winning car was a 7-litre Itala which, at one point, fell through a wooden bridge. Touch wood, that hasn’t happened to us (yet!)

Since the initial race in 1907, there have been only four more – this being the fifth incarnation of the classic rally. This is a testament to how hostile and tough Peking to Paris really is! Both John and I had to train hard to ensure we were in the best physical condition possible to undertake such a gruelling task.

Eventually after a lot of training, hard work and sacrifice, we arrived with the car in China.

Tom Post 1


After parking up in parc ferme we saw some of the other cars we would be racing against. There were some truly stunning machines, including this incredible green monster. I’d love to have one of these one day! It just seems such a shame to put it through the torture it will see across the race.

Tom post 2


Eventually after checking the car, prepping, preparing, pumping and checking the car again we passed scrutineering and started the rally. 0 miles down, 9,317 miles to go!

Peking to Paris


Quite soon we realised that the car, whilst looking amazing, was perhaps not best suited to this race. It felt slightly slower than the other cars in our class, and our hill speed wasn’t great. We have around 100bhp, compared to 140 bhp on another Volvo we’re racing against. This feels slow, however when you compare that to the 35/45 hp that the winning Itala had in 1907, it’s like a Formula 1 car!

In our first two days we had to carry out some repairs to the car’s exhaust and developed an oil leak, amongst other damage, and this really puts into perspective how hard that first rally must have been. What’s even more impressive is the fact that while roughly 11 per cent of people don’t finish the modern rally, four out of the five cars made it all the way to Paris in 1907. The size and impracticality of those cars (not to mention that the car had only existed for around 20 years at that point) makes it all the more impressive. As you can see, we had to carry out some repairs to the back of our Volvo in less than perfect conditions…

Tom Post 3


The desert stages are tough, and can take a real toll on the car. Whilst the roads are generally smooth, there’s the occasional suspension-breaking pothole which will appear from nowhere and slow you down, however having driven on UK roads I’m used to it! John’s doing a great job of navigating, and we’re not losing time unnecessarily.

The weather is generally okay – much better than in previous years. The first race was subject to persistent rain and mud – not something you’d want to deal with when racing in loud, open-top cars!

It’s easy to get caught up in the race and be in your own world feeling safe; however on day 8 we heard two cars rolled over. One, a VW, had to retire but this Japanese Nissan carried on. What a trooper!

Tom post 4

Everyone on the rally loves racing and pushing their cars to the limit, however staying safe should also be at the forefront of your mind. Tragically a fellow participant, Emma Wilkinson, was killed while driving through Russia in her Chevrolet C10. She was a fun and lively part of the rally, and the thoughts of everyone doing the rally are with her and her family.

We knew the rally would be tough, but we didn’t realise just how tough. Damage and repairs to the car have to be done daily to ensure the car still works, and the uncooperative roads do nothing to help the already old suspension. Time penalties are given if you’re too late to a checkpoint and can be hours long – easily destroying the hard work it took to shave minutes off your time. Still, when you see views like these mountains over the Russian border, it makes the trip worthwhile.

Peking to Paris 6

After traversing the Gobi desert, we took stock and had a look at what had happened to the car. The grand total of damage was;

  • Lost one rear wheel, one front wheel
  • 2 rear brake pipes, one front
  • 2 rear shock absorbers
  • 1 rear axle strap
  • 1 front upper suspension arm, with linkage
  • Pulled out anti- roll bar twice and damaged camber adjusters twice
  • Had to re- set track twice
  • 1 rear silencer box
  • Badly damaged under tray, front suspension crossmember, front exhaust
  • Assorted engine problems mainly attributed to sand, heat and bad petrol

It’s interesting to find out what a drain the rally is not just on your mental health but physical health too. In the first seventeen days I’ve had RSI from battling with the steering wheel on windy, poorly maintained roads, cuts and bruises from repairing the car and I’ve lost half a stone. Still, onward and upward!

Currently we are on day twenty of our trip, and have reached the Ukraine. Kharkiv to be precise. It’s been a long, arduous trip with plenty of mishaps, breakdowns and low points, however it’s a fantastic trip and we’re hoping to improve on our current position of 28th overall and 13th in class. There are still plenty of miles to go but now the Gobi, Mongolia and Russia are out of the way, we know we’re getting closer. We’re really just trying to finish this monster rally, but even if we don’t it’s been a great ride. See you in Paris!

We’re doing this trip in aid of the Prince’s Trust, and have so far raised a fantastic amount. We’re blown away by how generous people have been! You can see the donations and make one of your own at our Just Giving page here.

Author: Phil Burgan