Visiting the Abbeyfield residents in The Grange, Wellesley Park recently, I was struck by the notion of how often people’s adult lives can seem to travel full circle. On leaving home many of us experience shared living as students or flatmates, then comes a little more independence leading to living alone for a time, followed by (if we’re lucky) family life.
Later comes the almost inevitable loss of a partner and life as a singleton once more. Fast forward a few more years and we’re back with shared living in a sheltered or care situation. The atmosphere at Abbeyfield reminded me of a rather civilised shared student house, admittedly with a lot more grey hair among the residents and less empty beer bootles!.
At morning coffee there was lively banter between the six people currently living at the Grange – it has 7 single studio rooms, plus a flat for a couple. “I’m the senior resident here but they seem reluctant to accept that,” joked Ted Trotman, 91, who has lived at The Grange since 2013 ( Ted isn’t the senior resident, either in age or length of stay, my dad is ! Age 98 and 10 years living there)
Ted was an RAF bomber pilot at the age of 20, survived WW2 and spent his working life as an engineer with Clark’s Shoes. One of the things that suits him about The Grange is being able to visit his wife of 61 years who is currently living in Longforth Road care home Wellington.
Maeve Riley is currently the single female resident at The Grange. “It’s lucky that I had six brothers so I’m used to all their nonsense,” she said with a smile. “The whole thing about being here is that people have company when they want it, but also have their own lives.”
Residents generally eat together at mid-day with a hot meal cooked on the premises, and then gather again for high tea. But breakfast is taken individually in their rooms and evenings are generally private time.
“It’s no different to living in your own house but you get someone to cook and clean for you,” explained Peter Beresford, 79. Lesley Backhouse, The Grange manager, finds her job made easier by the fact that she reports directly to a local executive committee who are responsible for finance and maintenance.
In fact, each of the 700 facilities run by the Abbeyfield Society, is a distinct entity with different procedures and management but run to the same high standards on a not-for-profit basis. Anita Corbin is on The Grange Management committee, lives literally next door, and her father Bob – 98 and a retired horticultural photographer – is has been a resident for 10 years.
“Dad’s been very happy here and I think it’s a great place to be when you can no longer live totally independently but you don’t need residential care,” said Anita.
To find out more and see the full Grange brochure, click here