Jill, 80, and Jim, 85 have been living in St Monica Trust’s, Westbury Fields retirement village for 18 months. I went to visit them to ask why they moved to a retirement village, whether they thought it was the right decision and what their advice would be to people considering the move.
Making the decision
Having lived and travelled all around the world in their childhoods, from South Africa to the USA, Hong Kong and Europe, Jim, an aircraft engineer, and Jill, a nurse, met and settled in the UK to raise their three boys. They have been married now for 58 years. Two of their now grown-up sons live in the USA, the third in Bristol.
The family home in Derbyshire had a lot of steps and a large garden which was becoming a challenge to maintain. While Jim was adamant he didn’t want to move, Jill started to think it might be time to consider their options.
“It was our son who suggested we look round Westbury Fields,” she explains. “He lives in Bristol so it made sense for us to be closer to family. We saw Westbury Fields and Sandford Station, which are both run by the Bristol-based charity, St Monica Trust. We liked both villages but preferred the fact this one is closer to the city centre. We had to wait two years to secure an apartment but we’ve been here for 18 months now and we are very happy.”
The village provides a wide variety of activities including art classes, exercise groups such as Music and Movement, concerts by visiting musicians, talks by local organisations and trips to local shops and places of interest. The on-site restaurant is busy providing a delicious two-course lunch, which staff will deliver to residents if they are unable to get out. The hair salon opens two days a week and you have to book to make sure you get an appointment!
Westbury Fields has an on-site nursing home with a specialist dementia unit, both of which residents can use if their needs change. If you just need some help in your own home, care can be bought in 15 minute increments so residents can increase the level of care according to their needs. Every resident has one hour of domestic help per week, which most people use for cleaning their homes.
Asked if they miss anything about their house or their previous life, even Jim, initially reluctant to move, says he misses nothing and Jill agrees. Keeping in touch by email, Skype and phone makes it easy for the couple to maintain their friendships with people in the UK and abroad and they no longer worry about maintaining their house or garden.
Jill explains, “The point of living here is the support. Someone takes your bins out for you, mows the lawn, clears the snow. If you need a job doing you can hire a handyman for half an hour and you know you can trust him. When we moved in, we had a pile of boxes outside and didn’t know what to do, we phoned the porter and, like magic, they were gone!
“Also, you’re not doing it just for yourself. You’re doing it for your family. If you live in a retirement village with all the support in place, your family are not top of the list of people to call should anything happen. It’s a great comfort to everyone, knowing that we’re safe and secure. Our children are busy with their lives and our grandchildren, they are our world and it’s good that they don’t have to worry. We are relatively unusual in that we are a couple and have each other – most residents here are single so the support is even more important.
“Ask yourself: what if you don’t? What happens three or five years from now? The situation will not improve. My advice would be to embrace a new phase in your life and move while you still have the capability to make your own decisions and have the energy to create a happy new life for yourself.”
If you think a retirement village might be for you, we’d be delighted to show you around Lynwood Village. Call us on 01344 874250 or click here.
For more information about Westbury Fields and the St Monica Trust, visit www.stmonicatrust.org.uk