Care Writer, Jerry Short, visited Gibraltar Nursing Home to talk to their newest family member, 86-year old Valerie Jacques, to find out how the change to living in the newly refurbished nursing home had gone for her.
He said “Gibraltar is nestled at the top of a hill overlooking, not the sparkling Mediterranean as the name might imply, but the more Celtic vista of Monmouth.
“Moving into a care home is one of life’s biggest moves, akin to moving out of your parent’s house. I was keen to find out how it had gone for her, as big moves can be stressful and at 86, stress is the last thing Valerie would have wanted.
The welcome I received when I arrived in the reception area was as warm as an Iberian summer. I explained that I was visiting Valerie, who had moved in just twelve days prior to my arrival. Gibraltar always refers to their residents as family members and operates as being a real home from home. For example, the care team chose to wear comfortable, everyday clothes instead of uniforms, and family members are given as much independence as possible and can make drinks or snacks in small “family-type” kitchens, whenever they want. The home feels as much like a family house as possible.
As I walked through the home, I noticed one of the dining rooms had a group of bridge players battling it out, their laughter followed me down the hallway. I had no idea bridge was such a fun game. We walked on past a library, a cinema and even a heated hydrotherapy pool.
Valerie’s room was warm and comfortable and after being introduced, I asked if she had settled in yet. She nodded.
“Oh yes, I was made to feel welcome as soon as I arrived” she told me. “I moved here after having a few falls, so we thought it best for me to move to Gibraltar where they understand limited mobility.” She smiled and leaned forward in her wheelchair.
“Within a very short time,” she continued, “I felt supported and confident enough to be able to walk to my bathroom with just a walking-frame. I hadn’t been able to do that for ages.”
I asked her how she passed her time in the home. “I enjoy the music,” she told me, “I even joined in, despite the fact I can’t sing”. She also said she loved reading the broadsheets. “I’m a bit of a snob” she teased, “I do like keeping informed. But what I really like most is chatting. I can talk all day. Ask anyone here what I’m like and they’ll tell you what a chatterbox I am.”
Valerie explained that she had learned to talk to older people when she worked as a pension advisor.
I asked her if the move into Gibraltar had gone easily. “Yes, they know what they’re doing here,” she told me, going on to say she felt welcome and included. Inclusion is a key part of maintaining everyone’s well-being.
She added “I’m really looking forward to the weather warming up as I’ve heard they have great BBQs here.” I follow her gaze out across the misty treetops through the window and I am sure we are both imagining hot food sizzling. As I walked back along the hallway, I make a note to myself to come back in the summer to revisit Valerie, hopefully on a BBQ day.
Jerry Short, Care Writer.