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Our Everyday Heroes – Pulling together to support our communities

I don’t think anyone could have imagined just how tough being told to stay at home for a prolonged period would be. For many in our retirement communities this has meant lots more time alone for some and, for others, having to makes significant changes to their normal routine.

In this Everyday Heroes special we want to recognise those residents and colleagues who have shown inventiveness, perseverance and sheer determination to get through lockdown, keeping themselves busy, but also supporting each other.

Our featured story is about 71 year old, Bernie, a resident at Manaton Court, where he lives with his wife, Jennie. Happily, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on Easter Saturday during lockdown.

Bernie has been inspirational during lockdown. Far from sitting twiddling his thumbs, he hasn’t had a moment to spare as he keeps active and supports his fellow residents.

Bernie had an active social life before lockdown, frequently attending the local bowling club. But with lockdown temporarily closing the bowling club, Bernie decided to use his spare time to focus on getting fitter.

“When lockdown was first announced I decided I wanted to keep myself busy,” Bernie, says. “I spend so much time at the bowling club people joked I should start paying them rent and with the club being closed, I didn’t want to sit and mope.”

Three months into the lockdown, Bernie has lost over two and a half stone and is still going strong.

Bernie’s fitness regime includes two hours a day on his exercise bike, which by all accounts he has nearly worn out, coupled with a long daily walk (always maintaining social distancing measures) when he’s needed a break from saddle soreness.

Far from this wearing Bernie out, he’s also found the time to assist his fellow residents and be a friendly neighbour to keep people’s spirits high.

Bernie concludes: “I turned a challenging situation into a positive one by focusing my efforts on getting fit and helping my fellow residents, many of whom were finding lockdown very challenging. We live in a supportive community and I’m pleased to help other people as well as making a big change to my own health and wellbeing.”

Bernie isn’t the only resident who has been keeping busy through lockdown. You’ll see from our carousel of images how residents have been using their time to support and thank their local hospitals with thoughtful and imaginative gifts, raising funds for local causes with Captain Tom inspired walks, and arranging special socially-distanced birthday celebrations. We’re also delighted to see many residents have brightened up their developments with the colouring sheets from our weekly entertainment packs.

Shout out for our Development Managers

It’s not just our residents who have been thinking outside the box to keep things upbeat. Our Development Managers play a vital role in not only keeping everyone safe, but keeping everyone happy too.

Our wonderful Development Managers, who stayed on site to support residents throughout lockdown, have been creative in their approach to keeping residents entertained with the additional challenge of social distancing.

Julia from Saxon Court has been reading poetry and doing a sing-along over the intercom for residents regularly, whilst Lesley from Homecroft House and Cathy from Priory Lodge have been delivering freshly baked scones to their residents to keep their spirits up -140 in one day on one occasion!

Suzanne from Penn Court has been hosting ‘Tunes at Noon’ come rain or shine where she takes the speakers outside and plays feel-good songs. Many residents join her for a dance, all suitably social distanced. Those who are self-isolating give a wave out of their windows so she can see they are alright.

Sarah from Homepoint House has made a kindness board with friendship slips for residents to post through the doors of someone they would like to chat to with their phone number on. And, Katie from Homefarris House started a sunflower growing competition for residents. Some residents planted seeds in areas where those isolating can enjoy them from their windows.

We want to say thank you to everyone who has contributed to making lockdown that little bit more bearable. A challenging time made that bit easier through pulling together and showing we care. As a result, our communities are stronger and, despite the physical distance, we have never felt so close.