My happy, content father Richard, slipped into depression in 2012. My brother and I made a real effort to see him as much as possible and we engaged a part time carer. It worked for a few months, but it became clear that my father’s absent mindedness was turning into something more difficult – and his safety was in doubt. Most worryingly, he stopped taking medication for diabetes and blood pressure. Once convinced he must take them, it was impossible to work out if he had taken too many pills or none at all.
Then his dementia was confirmed. He could no longer live alone. My brother and I had assumed that he would one day live with one of us – but we hadn’t realised how difficult it would be for our families with someone who needed full time care. We felt really dreadful that we couldn’t take this on – but we didn’t like the idea of a full time carer at home. It would mean him seeing so few people, getting so little stimulation.
We had heard that care homes were expensive, but having a full time carer seemed only a little cheaper, so we set out to look at homes. We saw nine. Some had a real sense of caring, others lovely surroundings, but no apparent ‘heart’. We loved Bridge House straight away. June the manager had a good understanding of dementia and great empathy with the residents. Whilst she showed us the airy, bright, well-kept rooms, all the resident’s eyes lit up as they saw her passing! I was convinced that my dad would love the ambiance – surroundings really matter to him and this was elegant and spacious.
He moved in. I had thought that he would love all the activities on offer, but his confidence was low and he wasn’t sure how to communicate. Now really confused – his dementia seemed to set in. His past became the here and now.
All the team was first class – endlessly patient and calm. But it was the outstanding activities co-ordinator, Chantelle who made the breakthrough. She took the time to read an autobiography my father had written. She found the triggers – music and sport – to win him over. She arranged a trip to watch a cricket game (with a pint of beer added in!) and one day I received a photos showing him on a Bournemouth beach enjoying an ice cream – a broad grin on his face!
My dad has been at Bridge House for a year. He has dementia, but he is living a full, happy life. There is no sign of the depression that had gripped him before.
“Coming here has given me a new lease of life! I was nervous about it to start with, but I’m so glad now that I’ve made the move. Bridge House Care Home provides the companionship I lacked and offers so much more than I expected.” So says Jim Hall, aged 85 from Scotland. He joined the Bridge House family in 2014 and has become a welcome addition to the home.
Jim was born in The Gorbals in Glasgow in 1930, at the start of the Great Depression. He nevertheless went on to work in plasma physics at the nearby Culham Laboratory and set up the first screen-based online information service in the UK – 10 years before Google!.
“With my son and my daughter we looked at quite a few Care Homes in the area and to be honest, when we saw Bridge House we weren’t sure that it was affordable – it looks so luxurious and there is so much laid on for the residents. A wonderful bistro and health club and spa, a cinema, a gym – which I use every day! – a library, a bar, organised outings and lots and lots more.
“But I was surprised and delighted to find that it is very competitively priced – starting from £950 a week – and that made the final decision for me.
“With all the home comforts that Bridge House offers it really is the wonderful team who make all the difference. They are so warm and friendly and made me feel comfortable and at “home” within a matter of days”.
Bridge House manager, June Maharaj says: “We are delighted that Jim has come to join us. We provide totally personalised care for all our 71 residents and we try to make everyone feel that they can be part of our community whenever they wish, whilst still giving them privacy, if that’s what they need. We know we are getting it right when like Jim, our residents tell us they fell totally at home.
“We are particularly proud of our Riverly Club. It adjoins Bridge House and is open to Abingdon residents aged 55 and over, offering exercise classes, a spa and a range of other activities. Our residents all have automatic membership of the Club and so feel as though they are still part of the wider community as they can mix with visiting Club members on a daily basis.”
“My father is aged 96 and is a retired Deputy Head of Chemical Engineering at Harwell Research Establishment. He worked there for over 30 years whilst living in Abingdon.
When my mother died, Dad decided to move back to Swansea, South Wales where he grew up as a child. Dad had many friends there and was completely independent of needs and health requirements during this period.
However, when visiting my sister Gwyneth in London in May last year, Dad became ill and was in hospital for several weeks.
My sister and I came to the conclusion that Dad now needed looking after 24/7. Gwyneth and I started looking at care homes both Swansea and Abingdon. It was a difficult decision for Dad, whether to remain close to his friends or family. Dad decided he wanted to be close to his family and so a care home in Abingdon was the priority.
Bridge House was an obvious choice from the start. Both my sister and I were very impressed with the quality of the home and the professionalism of the team. It was immediately obvious that this was the place for him. To be offered a ground floor room with a lovely view over the park was an added bonus.
A year on Dad has settled in very well at Bridge House and is part of their ‘family’. All the team look out for Dad and he has a lovely relationship with them it is so easy for my sister and I to visit him – as well as his great grandson Finley! At first Dad did find it difficult to adapt, but before long the care and attention from the cheerful team enabled him to settle quickly. He loves the activities and crosswords, as well as using the spacious Bistro every day for a ‘gossip and catch up’.
Dad still likes his independence – he is a proud Welshman – and is able to walk into town every day and visit the library. Another bonus is that Bridge House is so close to the town itself. He also walks to church every Sunday.
Many of his Welsh friends have come up to visit him and have commented how lovely Bridge House is. The Bistro itself is a lovely place to meet with visitors and friends.
It has been a wonderful move for him and he is so happy there. Thank you Bridge House!”
– David Lewis