The best of both worlds
Richmond Retirement Villages offer you the independence and privacy of living in your own home and easy access to a wide range of social and leisure facilities, without having to worry about day-to-day chores and responsibilities.
Fiona Broster spoke to residents and staff about the Independent Living Package, which offers peace of mind both for those who live in the Villages and for their families who love and care about them.
I met Katy Teare in the buzzing coffee lounge at the Richmond Village in leafy Letcombe Regis, near Wantage, Oxfordshire. With the aid of her walking frame, she led me along the thickly carpeted route to the lift. ‘I’m the new girl on the block’ she announced as she showed me into her apartment, which overlooks a grassy courtyard and boasts a stylish kitchenette and en suite bathroom. “I only moved in here seven months ago.” Once we were each seated in a comfortable armchair, I asked her how she was settling into her new home and life in the Village. ‘Well it’s great to be able to have all those things done for me that I either can’t do myself – or simply don’t want to do. The people working here are wonderful – whether they’re cleaners, waiters or carers, they’re so considerate. They always remember what you like and how you want things doing.”
I was amazed to learn that Katy would be celebrating her 100th birthday next June. She has four children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, whose photos festoon her mantelpiece. How did her family feel about her embarking on this new lifestyle so late in life? ‘They tell me that since I’ve been here, I look much better, and that I seem more alert,” she replied, before continuing, “I think this is partly because I’m being so well looked after, but also because there’s so much to do here to keep me occupied – physically and mentally.
Indeed, on the day of my visit, Katy had to shoehorn me into her busy schedule! She had just finished a ‘Brain Games’ session and after lunch was due to attend a new painting class. ‘I used to paint a lot, but my eyes aren’t what they used to be so we’ll see what I end up creating!” she said with a chuckle. Katy indicated several water colours on the wall behind her: natural scenes she had painted of the Isle of Man where she lived for many years. She has travelled a lot during her long life. “What’s so nice is that many of the people living here have travelled too, so we enjoy exchanging stories and re-living our experiences.”
Later, I met Village manager, Elisabeth Parker who outlined the main provisions within the Independent Living Package. “As an apartment resident, you own your home outright. The package fee then makes life easy for you – it covers your daily needs and living expenses, including utilities, main meals, laundry, a daily maid service, and delivery of mail and newspapers to your door. In addition, our Domiciliary Care Team holds your medical history and reviews this regularly as part of your Wellbeing Assessment. The standard package is designed around your being able to bathe, dress and prepare a light breakfast and snacks by yourself, but if you need extra help with any of this, we can provide it as an additional option.”
As well as these benefits, there is access to the extensive on-site facilities: a restaurant and bar, well-stocked library, luxurious wellness spa, hairdressing and beauty salon, plus treatment rooms for visiting therapists. Varied weekly social programmes include something to interest everyone, from book clubs and music appreciation to wine tasting and country walks. For personal safety, there’s a 24-hour emergency call-out service, while CCTV surveillance and security lighting operate in communal areas. Availability of on-site guest accommodation makes it easy for family and friends to come and stay and there’s even a ‘try before you buy’ option which allows you to live in a Village for a period, so you can take a relaxing holiday and the opportunity to decide whether this is the life for you.
Peter and Dorothy Smethurst enjoyed just such a holiday when they had to vacate their home near Southend-on-Sea while work was carried out. Both are aged 85 and registered disabled and since none of the local hotels were able to cater for their needs, they rented an apartment in the Northampton Village. “We had such a wonderful time, we decided to put our house on the market and move in permanently” Peter told me. He was full of praise for the Richmond team. “They were so helpful and co-operative throughout the process and once we arrived everyone made us feel so welcome; we felt instantly at home.”
A matter of days after moving in, Peter suffered a health scare, which fortunately turned out to be nothing serious, but he was impressed and assured by the response. “A nurse was with me directly after we raised the alarm and prompt and efficient action was taken to ensure I received the treatment I needed.” Peter and Dorothy have two daughters who both lived some distance away from their previous home. “They are delighted about the choice we made. We are better located now for them to visit and of course, it so easy for them to stay with us. We’re even going to be hosting 14 family members here for Christmas dinner in a private dining area.”
It seems that Richmond Villages offer the best of both worlds – what we all dream of having in later life both for our older loved ones and for ourselves when the time comes. We can enjoy living in safety and comfort within a like-minded community, while our families know we are in good hands with all our needs taken care of, and that they are free to visit whenever they can
Richmond Villages have retirement villages in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Cheshire. To find out more please call 01235 773970 (option 1) or visit www.richmond-villages.com
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