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

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.

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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