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Case Study: Settling My Parents

01/05/2020 Wadswick Green, Case Study

Johh Hemkens - Wadswick Green Resident

John and Glenda Hemken, 86 and 88 respectively, had been living in their previous home in Caversham near Reading for 15 years before moving to Wadswick Green. It was their daughter Celia who thought that they would receive more support and benefit from a community spirit if they moved into a village with assisted living available. They are now happily living surrounded by friends and taking part in many social events and activities.

Celia explains: “I had been living in America for a number of years and saw that people there tend to plan more for when they get older than over here. My parents were thinking of downsizing but none of the properties they had looked at suited them. Time went by and my mother had a stroke. I became concerned that my parents staying in their home was starting to impact their quality of life.”

Celia returned to the UK from LA and set to help her parents find a new home in which they could enjoy their retirement more comfortably.

“They didn’t like the sound of care homes, and they wanted to keep their independence. On the other hand I was worried because I could see they were increasingly becoming isolated. I was familiar with the assisted living model because they are very common in America and thought it was the right balance. When I discovered Wadswick Green, I thought this is perfect! I’m really happy it’s finally coming to the UK.”

The sale of the couple’s former home took longer than expected, so Celia took John and Glenda to visit Wadswick Green often during the wait to get familiar with the village and get used to their future home.

“I took them to see the village quite a few times when we were waiting for the sale to complete,” she explains. “That way they still felt very invested with the move and they could meet the staff, get familiar with the site and meet residents… Mum was very keen on moving!”
John and Glenda moved into their new home in 2019.

Celia explains: “The idea was that I would stay with them to help them move and settle into their new home. I came with them to Wadswick Green and had actually just found a place for myself when the Covid-19 crisis hit. I’m having to stay put for the time being, so now I am self-isolating with them. It’s been really good at Wadswick Green, the staff have been wonderful.”

To help them prepare their move, Wadswick Green offered the couple a number of complimentary hours of their assisted moving services. As part of this, a dedicated move planner had a talk with them and advised them on how to proceed. The rest of the move was handled by Celia.
“I coordinated everything, and I must say it can seem daunting at first, particularly when it comes to decluttering - I sympathise with all the challenges. But honestly, once it’s all done and dusted, and you see your parents comfortably settled in their new home, it’s all worth it.”

The couple’s home is located in Wadswick Green’s Almond Close development, which opened in February 2019. The apartment features a spacious kitchen, waist-height appliances throughout and boasts an open-plan layout that creates an inviting and comfortable atmosphere. As Glenda uses a wheelchair this was particularly important to her. There is also a private balcony, which John particularly enjoys spending time on in the warmer weather.

Celia says: “It doesn’t feel like a retirement flat at all, but just like a home. When you come in, you enter through a large lobby that leads into a very bright and spacious space. There is a fantastic sweeping view of fields, villages and hills into the distance. Mum is an artist, so design is something that’s always been very important to her. She really liked that everything is so modern and progressive at Wadswick Green: it’s very distinct from other retirement developments, and that made the difference.”

John and Glenda quickly settled in at Wadswick Green and made many friends. They take part in the many activities and events offered in the village and they enjoy frequent meals at The Greenhouse Coffee Shop and Restaurant. John also visits the gym and pool facilities every day.

“Wadswick Green feels like a community,” Celia comments. “They loved the area where they lived before, but it was mainly families and professionals still working and everybody was wrapped up in their own lives, so apart from the carers, postman and family my mother wouldn’t see anyone day to day. But now they are both surrounded by friends and people they recognise, which makes them feel safer and gives me peace of mind. What’s great about Wadswick Green is that you can get just as involved as you like. And my mother is safe here to move around freely on her mobility scooter so she has much more independence.”

Whilst many of the activities and facilities have been temporarily closed in light of the Covid-19 crisis, the couple are still very active members of the community. John takes part in weekly Zumba classes from the balcony in keeping with social distancing measures, and several of the hobby groups they are part of also continue to remain active online through social media and emails.

“The staff have been wonderful during this time,” Celia says. “We receive newsletters every week with all the latest updates, and they’ve set up a pop-up shop in the spa so residents can get all their essentials without having to leave the development. We’ve not used it much as we had food delivered, but I know it reassures Dad that it’s there.”

She continues: “The village team are really making an effort to keep people engaged and happy. At Easter Zack, a member of the team, dressed up as the Easter bunny to deliver a chocolate egg to everyone around the village. It’s the little things like these that make a difference, it’s helping."
Residents also get regular updates from Chris Liversidge, the village’s award winning landscaper and head of the gardening team. Wadswick Green’s gardens and its access to the beautiful Wiltshire nature was a major draw for the couple, Celia says.

“It’s just such a stunning place. Although it’s completely surrounded by nature you don’t feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere because there is a restaurant and café open to the public on site with many outside visitors that give it a special vitality and lots of friendly residents to talk to. And of course Corsham is right there with everything you need. Transport is great for my parents: they went to Quakers every week and went to shopping trips whenever needed before the Covid-19 lockdown.”

“What has made a big difference during this lockdown has been the landscaping. We wanted to buy a place that had imaginative landscaping because Mum has always been a keen and creative gardener. It really makes a difference, especially at this difficult time. My parents enjoy daily walks, looking at the plants and flowers, which help relieve anxiety.”

She continues: “She really likes Chris and his designs. It’s very contemporary and a lot of thoughts has been put into it - it’s completely different to what you’d expect in a retirement development. Chris knows ecology and he is very passionate about what he does, so that appealed to Mum. It’s full of wildflowers, there are beehives, bat houses… It feels like nature.”

The couple enjoyed care support and support with the housekeeping through Wadswick Green’s domiciliary care agency Rangeford Care. As Celia is now self-isolating with her parents, she has however chosen to pause the service for the time being.

“Mum having had a stroke and then pneumonia recently, I thought it best that we limit visits. But my parents are keen to restart it as soon as it’s over. The staff are just wonderful: they are genuinely caring people, and you can tell it’s not just a job for them. From the concierge to the care team, they all really want to improve your life in any way they can and they’re so generous and friendly.”
She continues: “We used care prior to moving to Wadswick Green, but nothing quite as organised as this. The communication between the team is wonderful: even if you meet someone new, they always have all the details of my parents’ needs, tastes and preferences. You never feel like you have to train them again.”

She concludes: “The move was very difficult emotionally, because having to go through your things, knowing some belongings will just be taken off to the local dump it can feel like you’re getting rid of memories. But at the end of it all it’s so worth it. I feel like my parents were given a new lease of life. It’s an excellent move: the benefits far outweigh the challenges and I highly encourage others to make it too.”

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