Southern Healthcare

Local community gets into 'spirit' of giving to care home

March 14, 2017

Long-established independent nursing care provider, Southern Healthcare has four homes across Devon, specialising in complex nursing, dementia and residential care. The company’s Old Rectory care home, based in Exeter, has brought the ‘outside in’ for residents and families, as a part of their developing dementia care programme. Within the home, they have created a country-style pub/ beer garden offering beer and spirits, and a contemporary café serving specialist roasted coffee and light snacks.

Paul Courtney, Operations Director – Southern Healthcare said: “We believe that you don’t have to leave your life at the door when entering one of our care homes. And following on from the hugely successful refurbishment with the creation of a pub and ice-cream parlour at Sefton Hall, our care home in Dawlish, we decided to roll this out at The Old Rectory. This initiative enables residents to continue living a meaningful life, and enjoy the same experiences, in the safety and security of the care home, as when living independently.”

The highly-respected care home has been well supported by the local community with their project, with many businesses making donations. This includes restaurateur Lloyd Gardner, owner of independent and award-winning Lloyd’s Kitchen, based in Exeter’s city-centre. He is about to carry out a major refurbishment of his long-established outside plaza eatery, located a ‘stone’s throw’ from the restaurant and previously known as ‘LTG’s’. The former café is due to re-open as a new-look, all-weather café/lounge bar later this year, and Lloyd has generously donated 40 sets of bistro tables and chairs, crockery, cutlery and kitchen equipment, to help the care home team set up the innovative new social projects.”

Lloyd Gardner said: “When I visited The Old Rectory I received such a warm welcome from everyone and was absolutely amazed at what they have achieved. I went with a pre-conception that a care home would be clinical and institutionalised; yet as soon as I stepped through the door of The Old Rectory I was blown away by the warm welcome and how much it felt like a ‘home from home’. The wonderful care team are so friendly and the residents all looked happy and busy with social interaction. This initiative to create a pub/beer garden and a dedicated café, is something I have never seen before in a care home, and I’m absolutely delighted to be able to donate the tables and chairs and help make a difference to people’s lives.”

A former storage area has been converted into an authentic-type pub called ‘The Duke of Wellington’ serving draft beer, wine and spirits. The bar is well equipped with optics and locally branded Heavitree Brewery beer mats and bar towels donated by Shaldon Conservative Club. Pub lunches and quizzes are a popular pastime as are indoor skittles and the well-known pub card game crib - a great team activity it helps to keep the brain stimulated and active.

Continuing with the theme of giving the residents a feeling of independent living; a former dark and little used lounge, has been refurbished to create a contemporary, bright and cheery café called ‘The Coffee Hub’. Now a light and airy space, it serves high-end specialist real bean coffee, and homemade cakes and a perfect meeting place for residents and their visitors, located in the heart of the home.

As part of the social care programme, there are also weekly activities and group meetings held in the café, including: a poetry society ‘for better or verse’; cookery demonstrations; the ‘green fingers club’ and the ever popular ‘knitter-knatter’ club who get together weekly for knitting and a good gossip.

The listed building boasts original window shutters and by closing these, the ‘Coffee Hub’ is transformed into a cinema for afternoon matinee and evening film showings. A huge 10’ diameter screen has been installed with good acoustics to show classic movies, chosen by the residents, and the availability of popcorn and sweets add to the atmosphere.

Karen Bolt, Administration Director – Southern Healthcare comments: “The Coffee Hub and the pub are designed to provide opportunities for residents and their families together with care staff, to engage. Certain dementias can cause frustration, so visits to the café for a coffee or for a pint in the ‘Duke of Wellington’ help support staff in reducing those frustrations. She adds: We are hugely grateful to Lloyd and everyone in the local community who have supported us with kind donations to help make this happen.”

See coverage in: Exeter Living