As our loved ones get older it’s inevitable that parts (some monumental parts) of their and our lives are going to change, and often those parts hover on the question of accommodation, or more importantly, the idea of home. But what is home? A place where you feel warm, cosy and safe? Maybe it’s wherever your friends and family are…or maybe it’s wherever you decide to make it. At Sunrise of Southbourne team members do everything they can to make life for residents just like home. So, in the pursuit of experiencing this unique senior lifestyle first hand we interviewed a couple of the community’s residents. Here’s our account.
I was invited into a charming ground-floor one bedroom apartment by Frank (Age 89) who, beaming with anticipation, kindly showed me to the living room where his wife Irene (Age 88) was poised for her journalistic debut in an unassuming, yet proud, way. She got up, shook my hand and instantly won me over with a smile and a quick-witted joke. Now I was the one in the hot seat. Sure enough I did my introduction, explained my cause, and we began our questions…
Pictured above: Mrs Darlington
When did you move to Sunrise of Southbourne?
December 2014, just over three years ago. This is my home [she confidently interjected].
How has being here affected your quality of life?
It’s made things a lot easier. We’ve been able to give up the car, which was becoming more of a hassle than it was worth. We have 24-hour help if we want it, we get fresh towels and our room serviced everyday, the best food…so why wouldn’t you like it?
You mentioned the food, what’s it like here?
The food is marvellous and if there is ever something you don’t like the chef asks you to just write what you want an hour or so beforehand and he’ll do everything he can to sort it out. It’s a three-course meal, three times a day, and you can even have wine if you like at dinner, which is always nice!
Having just done the tour, I can see there are a lot of activities going on here…
Yes! There are at least six activities every day, and you can pick and choose what you want to do. Having such a diverse range of activities means we can explore different interests and pick up new skills.
Do you have a favourite?
We like to attend the Tai chi classes, Ipad lessons, and the garden club. We quite like the Christian themed events; especially when people come in and perform a service. Two different ministers come in to hold Holy Communion each month, which really brings everyone together.
That’s great! I also understand that many residents are in-charge of the clubs here?
It’s true; I am the head gardener. Only last weekend I was picking sprouts, and the chefs offered to cook them. Of course, the gardening club is very serious to a lot of people here, not that we use any books or follow strict guidelines, but it all grows nonetheless! Tomatoes, strawberries, sweet peas…and if someone can’t make it out to the club, because they’re ill or just too tired, someone delivers the pickings to their room.
A gentleman comes here—who first came wearing all black, so I thought he was here to read someone the last rights-but he teaches us Tai Chi in an oriental outfit. One lady, who initially thought the same as me, said “I don’t think much of that minister doing all that dancing around”. We were in hysterics!
Of course we love it when animals come to visit too…
Oh yes. Many residents have their own pets; even Sian (Associate Director of Community Relations) brings in her little Cockapoo pup in everyday, and it really makes a difference to us all. There is one female resident whose arms are permanently clenched and she can’t relax them, but one day we placed the dog in her lap and her instinct took over and she moved her arms and cradled the dog.
We really have some amazing times here. We even have a visiting pig, and alpacas, and iguanas, who all saunter into the lift and head upstairs to the memory care community where we all learn about the different species.
Where do I sign up?!
Well, we’ll save you a room. But you’ll have to be interviewed this time!
Thank you. Last question; has there been a moment or team member who has made a real impact on your time here thus far?
For me it’s people like Sian. We moved in here rather quickly, and we were meant to move in the morning, but I’d asked if I could have more time to get everything sorted. Well, sure enough when we arrived on the morning of our moving day, Sian had set up everything down to the last china plate. It completely made our first day. But truly all of the team here are so friendly; nothing is too much trouble.
There was another time too, when my husband Frank needed a special flavour and type of medication. One day it was suddenly withdrawn and he wasn’t sure where to get it or what to do, but Sian helped us order it online. She took away all of the worry and stress of it, which really sums up what it is to be here. It’s like living at home, and all the freedoms that come with that, with everything else taken care of for you.
For more information contact Sunrise Senior Living in Southbourne:
t. 01202 437600
a. 42 Belle Vue Road, Bournemouth BH6 3DS