When Mary Harris’ loving and supportive husband passed away last year after more than 65 years of marriage, she not only felt understandably bereft but also worried about how she would cope on her own at the age of 92. Both her daughters, who live nearby in Sutton Coldfield, were keen for Mary to move somewhere where she would have extra support and company on hand - yet still have a degree of independent living. When her granddaughter, Sarah Shaw, flew in from overseas for the funeral, she too could see the urgency of finding a suitable new home for Mary. Fortunately, they spotted an ad in the local paper for Churchill Retirement Living’s New Hall Lodge in Sutton Coldfield and made an immediate appointment for a viewing.
Within nine weeks of her first visit, Mary moved into New Hall Lodge and has not looked back. “I had been finding it difficult to negotiate the stairs in my previous house and there was no downstairs toilet. My new apartment is all on one level and the Lodge has the added benefit of a lift. Living here is really comfortable and I don’t feel lonely – I have made good new friends and there is always something to do or someone to be with.” In fact, Mary wishes she had moved out of her previous home sooner when her husband was still alive, so that together they could have enjoyed the benefits of a Churchill lifestyle in their latter years.
And when Mary’s granddaughter flew back to her family home abroad she too was happy that her grandmother was settling well into her new home and was particularly pleased with the warm welcome given to Mary, on her arrival to the Lodge, by the Lodge Manager and the other Owners. “I remember having a good feeling on the flight that this had been the right move for my grandmother and, despite knowing that she would miss my grandfather hugely, I felt sure she would adapt and settle well into her new and welcoming environment.” Some months later Sarah, together with her husband and children, returned to live in the UK and it was around this time that she started looking for a job. “Before I had the children, I spent 15 years working for BA as cabin crew and so had many years of experience of dealing with the public. I was hoping to find something customer facing again so that I would be able to use those skills.”
It was not long before Sarah spotted an ad in the local paper for a Sales Consultant position at St Francis Lodge in nearby Solihull and, knowing that her grandmother was so settled and happy at New Hall Lodge, spurred her on to apply for the job. Sarah was successful in getting the position and, like her grandmother, has not looked back since becoming involved with the Retirement Lifestyle Specialist. “My grandmother feels she is part of one big family since living at New Hall Lodge and I too feel I have an extended family with the team I work with at St Francis Lodge. We have both been made to feel so welcome. The sense of family certainly helped my grandmother with her bereavement and overcoming any feelings of loneliness and I too feel that the job and the support of the Lodge Manager and Sales Consultant has helped me to settle into my new position and back in the UK so much more quickly.”
Both are now firm advocates of the Churchill Retirement Lifestyle. Mary enjoys the regular coffee mornings, fish and chip lunches as well as the cinema club and rummikub sessions with fellow Owners. Trips organised by the Lodge Manager are equally enjoyable and she is already looking forward to a Christmas meal outing. Neighbouring Owners pop in for a chat or a coffee and there is little time to feel lonely. Plus, the 92 year old has everything on her doorstep – from the visiting chiropodist and hairdresser to the cleaners. Sarah says; “I have witnessed first-hand how happy my grandmother is and this has been a fantastic selling point when potential customers come to view our Lodge - I am able to genuinely recount the benefits of rightsizing. I believe it has made a difference to how people view such a move – particularly those that may be unsure about the lifestyle. I am able to reassure them of all the plus points to Churchill Retirement Living – from the many opportunities to mix with others to the genuine support given by the Lodge Manager and other Owners.”
Both granddaughter and grandmother feel very much part of their new communities and as Sarah says; “ Although we have both been here for a relatively short period of time, for us it really feels like home.”