Heatherdene Celebrates a Lifetime of Love on Valentine’s Day

Love was in the air at Heatherdene this Valentine’s Day when we treated two of our residents and their wives to a romantic Valentine’s couples’ lunch. The two couples’ combined years of marriage add up to a total of 84 years! And as it was Valentines Day, we took the opportunity to hear about their love stories, and what marriage means to them lives before they tucked into their lunch.

We may not be the biggest care home in Bexhill, but our Manager, Beena George, and her staff are able to dedicate more quality time to their residents on an individual basis. An example of this was on Valentine’s Day.

Michael and Patricia’s Story

One of the couples, Michael and Patricia were already in the front lounge. Heatherdene’s lounge was bedecked with hearts, petals, candles and the specially made Valentines playlist, such as Lady in Red, Frank Sinatra as well as some other classic love songs playing softly in the background. 

Michael, one of our dear residents, made his wife Patricia a Valentine’s card which she was very pleased to receive. The couple have been married for 31 years and their wedding anniversary was on 3rd February. We asked her a few questions about her and Michael’s love story.

How did you meet your husband?

“It’s a funny story really. My first husband collapsed one day at home. I panicked and rushed outside to get someone to help me. There was a man standing outside the shops waiting for his wife.

A Stranger to the Rescue

I approached him and asked him to help me, saying my husband had collapsed. The man and his wife came and were a marvellous help to me. The ambulance arrived and my husband had had a heart attack and sadly later passed away. But I didn’t get a chance to thank the couple that had helped me – they disappeared when the ambulance arrived and I hadn’t even had a chance to get their names. 

“I later found out their names and where they lived and sent a bouquet of flowers to thank them. We didn’t meet after that for about ten years, when we both worked for the council. We would see each other around the offices but I didn’t know he was divorced. He later came into the restaurant, told me he was divorced and asked me out for a drink.

“So, the first time I ever set eyes on him was the day my first husband died. But it was 10 years later that we were married. That’s my story. We’ve been together ever since.”

How did he propose?

“Well, he didn’t go down on knee that’s for sure! He just asked me and I said yes.”

What would you say is the key to a happy marriage?

“You can’t go through marriage without some ups and downs but Michael is such a patient man I’ve never met anyone so patient. His motto is anything for a peaceful life. We’ve been alright and I think it’s because we’re different that we got on so well.”

Sadly, Michael suffered a stroke in September of last year which meant him coming to Heatherdene Nursing Home. This no doubt changes things for any couple when they’re apart but Patricia didn’t let that phase her. 

“Apart from one day over Christmas, I’ve visited Michael every day for the last eight weeks since he’s been here. Of course, I’d love for him to be at home it’s a big change not having him around after 30 years. But he’s being looked after properly and it’s nice for me to think that that he’s in this cosy home.” Patricia also told me her and Michael had a great-grandchild born that very morning of Valentine’s Day!

Paul & Joan’s Story

Paul and Joan were in the home’s other lounge, mainly used for activities. They were joining in the morning’s activity, Tots Playtime, where Heatherdene hosts a baby yoga session for mothers and their babies. It’s a great time for the elderly ones to interact with some so young and it really lifts everyone’s spirits, hearing the gurgles and giggles of babies. 

Joan, wife of Paul, managed to have a talk with us about their life and love story. Paul and Joan have been married for 54 years. And will be celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary next Wednesday 26th February!

How did you two meet?

“Paul was my first love. It all began when Paul was supposed to play football one day but he couldn’t because he had to attend a family wedding. It was arranged my brother play in Paul’s absence. Unfortunately, my brother broke his leg playing so Paul came round to see him at our house … and that was it. Paul was quite the romantic. He used to send me sweet little notes setting out the hours, minutes and seconds until he would see me again, bless him.”

Dedication Despite Difficulty

Paul was sadly diagnosed with dementia in 2007 and, although it developed slowly, it eventually caught up with Paul. Joan cared for him as long as she could at home but he eventually moved into a care home. 

“Paul has lost the power of speech and use of his legs but he can talk with his eyes. I promised I would look after him always and I will. I’m so happy I can still be there for him.

“However, as our lovely daughter pointed out, her father has had a wonderful life and did everything he wanted to. We have some very happy memories with each other over the years, including our many trips to Sidmouth in Devon & the Lake District  – a place we loved very much.”

What, in your opinion, is the key to a happy marriage?

“Laughter – well, having a sense of humour and doing things together. Paul was a man’s man and would go to greyhound racing, manage football teams, and watch cricket and we socialised at the Sydenham Sports Club. Therefore, we had our independence but we were always there for each other;  that independence has helped me now that Paul is in a nursing home, even though being apart is still very hard. 

“He has settled into Heatherdene and is happy and content and has a lovely room there and if he’s happy and content then so am I. He is my inspiration.”

Joan, wife of Paul, 54 years married.

A Happy Day of Ageless Love

Both couples then enjoyed a lovely meal prepared by the home’s chef and even had a glass of Prosecco or two! It was so lovely that they could share their stories with us and a wonderful privilege for Heatherdene to give something back to these two happy couples. 

It was also very touching to see such devotion, especially from Joan and Patricia, who continued to support their husbands and it was wonderful they could share this special day together. Despite their hardships, both Paul and Joan and Michael and Patricia have grown old together, happy and still very much in love. They demonstrated how love can truly stand the test of time. 

This touching story even made it into our local paper, The Bexhill Observer: https://www.bexhillobserver.net/news/people/read-the-touching-love-story-of-how-two-bexhill-care-home-residents-met-their-wives-and-what-marriage-means-to-them-1-9241183

Candidates Visit Residents for Election

We’ve made sure our residents can be a part of the upcoming election, remembering that everyone’s vote counts.

With elections right around corner, we’ve made sure that all of our residents in Southcare Homes can be a part of this climactic time. They will either have physical access to an actual polling station on the day, or we’ve made arrangements for them to vote online or by post for those less mobile.

Plus, we want our residents to be able to make informed decisions when it comes to voting. That’s why we went one step further than just putting the news on in the morning. We arranged for candidates to come and visit our homes. This way, they can talk to residents and discuss the topics that matter to them. 

The Lewes Lib Dem Visits Lime Tree Residents

The Liberal Democrat Representative for Lewes, Oli Henman, visited Lime Tree House, our residential home in Ringmer. Mr Henman was very receptive to the residents’ views. He listened attentively, even making notes. All that wanted to, were able to take part in a lively discussion that focused on issues that specifically affect our residents.

Talks covered the NHS, state pensions, social care and the cost of coming into care. The candidate had a run for his money when some of our rather cheeky residents began heckling from the back. Some were even booing when Brexit was mentioned!

In his parting comments, Henman said it was ‘lovely to hear from the residents, [they were] very engaged and [had] incisive comments. I look forward to working to ensure better funding for health and social care as your Liberal Democrat representative’.  On commenting on the home, both Mr Henman and his driver were very impressed with Lime Tree. The driver, Theo, said he had a relative in a care home locally and ours was by far better, more friendly and had a lovely atmosphere.

It was “lovely to hear from the residents, [they were] very engaged and [had] incisive comments.”

Oli Henman, Lewes Lib Dem Rep

Labour Candidate Visits Heatherdene

Heatherdene Nursing Home in Bexhill, had a visit from Christine Bayliss, the Labour candidate for Battle and Bexhill. Christine has been active in local politics for a long time. She is now serving as a Rother District Councillor for the ward of Bexhill Central and Cabinet Member for Bexhill Affairs and Regeneration.

She is very well informed about the problems in health and social care at the moment and was very interested in staff and residents’ first-hand experiences. The candidate spoke to residents and their relatives about local issues affecting them – pot holes being just one of many!

Our residents could actively engage with current issues and feel a part of the current political climate. Our residents will be making sure their voices are heard at election time.

This was a fantastic opportunity to remind our residents how important they are to us, to their local community and to the government. Everyone has the right to vote, even those with dementia. No matter your age, you still have so much to give to your community.

Have family in care? Ensure they have a Power of Attorney.

Do you have a family member in a care or nursing home? Do you want to be included in decisions involving their medical care and finances? There may come a time when you’ll need to be a Power of Attorney to do so. But, what is a power of attorney? Why is it important for our elderly relatives to have one? And how can you, a family member or friend, help them with this? Read on for plain and simple answers to these important questions and more.

Please note, the following does not constitute legal advice but is simply a guide to help.


What is a Power of Attorney?

DEFINITION: It’s a document that allows you to be included in important decisions involving the medical care and finances of your family member. It is a document that they, or a family member, can create on GOV.UK.

Knowing the lingo

Before we get cracking, there’s always some legal lingo that can be confusing. So here are the keywords associated with power of attorneys laid out in plain English.

  • There are two types of Power of Attorney:
    • Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA): this ended in 2007 so you don’t have to worry about this one. If you already have one, that’s fine – any made before 2007 are still valid.
    • Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA): replaced the EPA in 2007. The LPA is the one we’re talking about in this article.
  • Donor: the person who needs to appoint someone to make decisions for them. For the purpose of this article, this is your elderly family member. (But in reality, the donor can be anyone over 18 and that has mental capacity.)
  • Attorney: the person given the legal power to make decisions on behalf of the donor. This is you – the relatives or friends of the elderly individual.

Why set up a Power of Attorney?

So now we know what an LPA is, why have one? An LPA is enacted when a person loses mental capacity. This means they can no longer make decisions for themselves, their care or finances. An example of this is when someone develops dementia. This is, sadly, all too common when it comes to our parents, grandparents, or elderly relatives. It can be the reason they go into care or something that develops while they’re there.

(Of course, it’s not the only thing that causes one to lack mental capacity. The NHS lists some examples here. A qualified professional or doctor can assess someone’s mental capacity.)

What if my family member has just been diagnosed with dementia?

It’s ok – this doesn’t mean that they lack mental capacity just yet. But time is running out to set up an LPA, so get this done as quickly as possible.

What if I don’t set one up?

If you don’t set up an LPA for your loved one and they lose their mental capacity, you will not be able to legally represent them. Then, the only way to act on their behalf is to go through a lengthy and expensive process which involves going to court to become a deputy. So get this sorted while you can! An LPA is the easiest way to ensure you will be involved in managing their affairs if they ever lose mental capacity.

So now we’ve looked at the importance of setting up an LPA for them while they still have mental capacity. Now we’ll explore what an LPA can allow you to do for your relative.


What does being an LPA allow me to do for my relative?

The donor can appoint one or two separate people as their LPAs. One can manage financial matters & property, and another can make medical and care-related decisions for them. But one person can also manage both. If two are chosen, the donor can decide whether they make decisions jointly or whether they can make decisions without the other being involved. The attorney(s) must always act in the best interests of the donor. Find out exactly what decisions LPAs can make on behalf of the donor on the GOV.UK website, here.


How much does an LPA cost?

It costs £82 for a donor to register one person as an LPA. Visit the government website to see if you are eligible for a reduction.


FAQs

Will an LPA take away my relative’s freedom to choose?

No, they will still have their independence as long as they have mental capacity. The LPA doesn’t have to be put into effect immediately. It’s good to reassure your loved one; they’re not losing control. The LPA just gives them peace of mind, knowing their wishes can be carried out in the future. It will be brought into effect when they lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Can an LPA only be enacted once the donor lacks mental capacity?

No, an LPA can be enacted while someone still has mental capacity. For instance, they may be able to handle their care but might get a little confused when it comes to managing their finances. If they have already appointed someone as an LPA over their finances, they can call on this person to make financial decisions for them.


How can we help you?

At Southcare, we want to make things as easy as possible – for our residents and their relatives. And we’ve seen how hard it is when relatives don’t have a say in their loved one’s care or finances. When it comes to their care and future plans, it is good to have the family involved. So we cannot urge you enough to ensure you have a Lasting Power of Attorney set up for your relatives, whether they’re in a home or not. If you need to set up a Power of Attorney for your loved one, do so here on the GOV.UK website. Or get in touch with your home manager for more information.

Pedalling with Passion along the Prom

Freshford Cottage were next up for the Living Our Values Challenge and their take had some amazing results. They focused on our second value, passion. Here’s what it means for us at Southcare:

VALUE 2: PASSION
Love and enthusiasm are at the heart of Southcare Homes– it’s the driving force behind our high-quality care.

Passion, pedals, a pilot, and a pair plucky residents were the ingredients for a cracking day out for Freshford Cottage, thanks to their recent partnership with Cycling Without Age. Freshford Cottage was next up for the Living Our Values Challenge and their passionate act involved something called a ‘trishaw’. What is a ‘trishaw’, you say? Read on to find out.

A ’trishaw’ is a motorised three-wheeled taxi-cab specifically designed and provided for by Cycling Without Age, an organisation focused on increasing the mobility opportunities for the elderly as well as their sense of freedom. Their provision of these ‘trishaws’ are a fun and free way for our residents to meet new people, and feel the wind in their hair once more!

The trishaw trio!
Teresa (activities coordinator) piloting two residents, Jean and Pat, along the front.

‘I have never been on holiday, never flown on a plane, nor had a ride on a boat, but the ‘trishaw’ has given me a taste of how fun it is to travel! I would now like to try a boat trip’.

Jean, resident, Freshford Cottage

Both ladies were so thankful for the afternoon and are looking forward to another trip out. Jean expressed her thanks: ‘I have never been on holiday, never flown on a plane, nor had a ride on a boat, but the ‘trishaw’ has given me a taste of how fun it is to travel! I would now like to try a boat trip’. So watch this space, we’re talking with our local boating company to make Jean’s wish for her and her daughters come true!
It’s truly amazing to see how our team’s passion and living our values helps motivate and inspire our residents to try new things and open up even more opportunities for them in the future.

How to cope with hot weather

Heatwaves aren’t very common in this country, but it’s always good to have a healthy level of optimism in case one does actually come along. Here are some tips to help you cope with the heat this summer.
Our dear elderly ones can be particularly vulnerable in the summer months. So what can you do to keep cool?

Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids is the best way to keep well during the hot weather. Avoid drinking alcohol, if possible.

QUESTION FROM READERS: Is it ok to drink hot drinks in hot weather?
Yes, drinking tea and even coffee can keep you hydrated. You can also drink fruit juice and soft drinks.

Stay out of the sun. It may be tempting to top up on your tan but it’s best to avoid being out in the sun especially between 11am and 3pm, as these are the times where the sun is strongest, making you more vulnerable to the effects of heat.Shut windows and pull down the shades. This helps to keep the heat out and keep the cold in. It’s best to open windows when it’s cooler outside.

Stay where it’s cool. This may seem to go without saying. But staying in a room where the sun is beating down on it will only make you feel hot. It’s crucial to find the coolest spot in the home—somewhere that doesn’t have the sun shining on it—go there to keep cool.

Wear loose, cool clothing. Make sure you wear a hat and sunglasses if you do decide to venture outdoors. Linen and cotton are good materials to wear in hot weather.

Seeing Dementia Differently

Understanding and changing the way you see dementia can go a long way towards making the moments shared with your loved ones rewarding and enjoyable. With a positive attitude, a trusty sense of humour and a read of this article, you can start doing just that.

When a person develops dementia, the first feelings to arise are often anxiety, emotional pain and fear. Fear that relatives will not be recognised by their loved ones. It is no doubt an emotionally traumatic experience but focusing on this fear and pain will not make dementia go away. As heart-breaking as it may be, the sooner we come to terms with the fact that dementia is here to stay, the better. Fighting it doesn’t make it any easier to cope with, but understanding dementia and changing the way you see it, will. In doing so, relatives and their loved ones can enjoy rewarding moments together despite dementia.

Be in the moment
Another way that dementia is often described is as ‘being in the moment’. For those with dementia, the only reality that exists is the one they are in. Correcting them about dates and people often causes further confusion and disorientation. Dementia is a journey involving a lot of time travel. But that doesn’t mean loved ones have to stay behind. In a sense, dementia could be likened to the DeLorean out of Back to the Future. Those with dementia are already in the car, but relatives can always jump in the passenger seat. A good way to ease stress on both sides is to explore reality with them. Wherever, or rather whenever, the individual is in time, that is the only time that’s relevant. If they’re somewhere in the 30s, be with them in the 30’s. Ask them what is it like there, who they’re with.

Relatives can also learn to be in the moment. It can be stressful worrying about what the future holds for a loved one with dementia. But shifting the focus away from stress and anxiety, and focusing on the present can allow quality time to be spent with them now.

How to reply to “I want to go home”
Don’t panic. Ask them a question. You could tell them that where they are now is their home. Or you could ask them where home is. It could be where they grew up or their first home as an adult. Ask more questions. Who do they live with? Difficulty often arises in trying to fight dementia, in desperately trying to keep loved ones in the now. Why not simply walk down memory lane with them?

Listen to body language
Conversations don’t always have to be verbal. We can all say a lot without opening our mouths and the same applies to those with dementia. They can tell others how they feel in multiple ways. Does their body language express pain, happiness, or are they uncomfortable? These little things mean the most. Relatives will also need to pay attention to their own body language and ensure this matches their tone of voice and what they are saying.

Consider the senses
Sensory activities are very important when it comes to engaging with dementia sufferers. Two senses to concentrate on are touch and sound. Keep in mind the emotional assurance that comes with simply holding someone’s hand. Sound and music can be very effective in creating a soothing and calm atmosphere. They can also trigger memories and allow for moments of reminiscence and clarity.

Lime Tree teaches tech-savvy residents to Skype!

First up to take on the Living our Values or LOV Challenge is Lime Tree House, our residential home in Ringmer. They decided to focus on our third value, attention. The box below tells you what this value means to us at Southcare Homes. So how did they do? Read on to find out.

VALUE 3: ATTENTION
The little things can go a long way, so we make every effort to meet the needs of our residents – no matter how small

Our more tech-savvy residents wanted a way to contact their relatives that couldn’t visit them as often as they would have liked to. Residents are free to use the phone at any time – some even having phones in their own rooms – but we know how important the little things are to our residents, so we went one step further and set up a resident’s computer with video-calling features – Skype!
As with all new things, the use of Skype will have it’s teething stage but all the staff are happy to help out and we’re encouraging our residents to use it as often as they wish and keep them and their relatives in touch.
It’s been great to get the ball rolling on the Living Our Values Challenge! This has really meant a lot to all of us at Lime Tree House.

What is the Living Our Values Challenge?
It’s where we practise what we preach. One of our homes highlights an instance where they turned one of our company values in an action to make a difference to our residents’ lives. Our five values are support, passion, attention, dedication & empathy.

NEW Vintage Cinema at Parkside Lodge

Parkside Lodge is abuzz with activity at the moment following the grand opening of their new 1930s-style cinema room!
The finishing touches were made and it opened it doors Friday 22nd February!
The grand opening was conducted by the Deputy Mayor of Worthing, Hazel Thorpe. Their new 1930’s-style cinema, was constructed especially at the request of residents. Almost two years after plans were made and funds were raised for the cinema room, it has now become a reality that all the residents are very excited about!
The maintenance manager, Paul Mann, has been working tirelessly to ensure our residents really feel like they’ve walked into the ‘30s as soon as they enter the room. And they certainly all felt that way on seeing the room for the first time, during the grand opening!
News of our new cinema room even spread to the papers, with an article all about the grand opening featuring in the Worthing Herald!
Now, all that’s left is to get the popcorn popping and decide which film to watch!

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