LIFE began again for former alcoholic Haidarousse Ali Mohamed when he arrived at an award-winning Torquay care home that specialises in the treatment of people recovering from alcohol-related brain damage.
"I would have died if I had not come here," said Ali.
As its name suggests, Vane Hill care home is on the top of a hill overlooking Torquay harbourside. It recently won the national 'Putting People First' award.
Owned by Notaro care homes — one of the only companies in the country that specialises in alcohol-related brain damage care — Vane Hill is one of company's three ARBD specialist centres.
It has been open since 1990, before specialising in the treatment of Korsakoff's syndrome in 1994.
Korsakoff's syndrome is a brain disorder usually associated with heavy alcohol consumption over a long period.
Although Korsakoff's syndrome is not strictly speaking a dementia, people with the condition experience loss of short-term memory.
"The problem is that nobody really knows much about it and knows how and if it can be treated," said Steve Todd, manager of Vane Hill.
"We can get at least 70 per cent or more of the brain damage back," he said.
"We can do this through repetitive behaviour, direction control and encouragement, and involving them in tasks that they have a past history in."
One of the residents at Vane Hill, Robin Cotman, says he owes his life to the care he has received at the home.
When asked how living in the care home has improved his life, he replied: "I'm still alive, aren't I?"
Haidarousse Ali Mohamed, known as Ali, has been at the care home for around four years.
He came after suffering a nasty head injury, having fallen over and hit his head on the corner of a pavement that left him in a coma for two days.
After the accident, he was left with a badly mis-shapen skull.
He then arrived at Vane Hill in Torquay and began his life over again.
Ali said: "I feel like I would have died had I not come here. I have to take medication and they help me remember to take it. Steve has helped me so much."
Steve, who knows the stories of the residents inside out, said: "He needed a better quality of life. One of the first things that we did when he got here was take him to the GP and make sure that he got this titanium plate fitted in his head.
"He really appreciates all the effort that went into helping him. He would not have been able to have this done in London as he was always drunk."
Steve is also concerned with informing the younger generation, working with schools and colleges to educate them on the dangers of alcohol.
"Binge drinking is the problem. Korsakoff's used to be an older disease but the cliental we are working with is getting younger.
"The youngest I have in the care home currently is 34. I have had someone as young as 25 and have been offered someone as young as 19.
"People need to be aware that drinking heavily can impact on your future."
He added: "This has never been a home that will take anyone.
"We always do assessments first to see whether we can meet their needs, but also, whether they will fit in with the community we already have.
"The home is run by the residents for the residents. We have two who are our cleaning team, while all the painting was done by residents as well.
"They also help to choose who cares for them when staff interview."
The residents also help the community by cleaning the park, washing cars, garden work and painting doors.
Care for residents doesn't just stop when they leave the home.
"We keep in contact even when they leave the home. We help them to find employment and take them to the interviews," added Steve when talking about the success stories that the project has had.
"One of our residents left us a year ago and now he is giving counselling to others. But we do provide a home for life if necessary."
Nicola Conway, support worker at the home, added: "They work wonders here. Some of the residents here seem so much better from when they arrived; it is like chalk and cheese.
"It is a pleasant place to work, and for the residents to live in, and they seem to like being here.
"Management are also very supportive towards the staff and the residents which makes a difference. They really do put people first."
Manager Steve said: "It was a big achievement for us and it was unbelievable to win the Putting People First award. It is what the residents and staff do that won them the award.
"The residents enable the staff — the staff don't enable them."
Vane Hill is also the only care home in the country to hold the investors in people silver award.
Notaro care homes also provide a 24-hour living care agency across the South West. People can draw down funding to have a carer come and live with them in their home.