In the first of a series of chats, we hear from Irene Woolfenden, a new – and temporary – resident at our Orpington home.
The café at Baycroft’s Orpington home is full of light and fresh air – surrounded on three sides by the garden terrace.
“I love having the gardens there, and the windows open for a breeze,” Irene says. “My husband used to follow me round, closing all the windows I’d just opened so I didn’t let the heat out!”
Over a cup of tea, Irene explains that she’s staying at Baycroft for a few weeks while a flat is made ready for her near her son’s house. They’d looked at a couple of places, but it was Baycroft that struck her. “It was something about the atmosphere here,” she says. “Something you can’t really put your finger on, but a definite feeling of being welcome.”
She’s relatively new to the area. Originally from Lancashire, Irene retired to Anglesey with her husband. They had been together since they were fifteen – “give or take two years of army service.” After her husband passed away, she moved again, this time to south-east England, to be closer to her son.
The subject comes up that it’s noticeable how many residents at Baycroft have beautifully done hair and nails – Irene herself has carefully manicured nails. “There’s a lovely girl on site who looks after all that,” Irene says. “Oh she is funny. She does keep us all entertained.
“I’ve never met anyone here who wasn’t kind. Everyone is so patient, all the time.”
She gestures at the café counter, which is open for any residents or their visitors to help themselves from, and displays a lot of very large cupcakes. She smiles and says with a wink, “And I like the food.”
All of Baycroft’s homes have a dedicated team of chefs, creating menus that balance nutrition with great taste, and Orpington is no different. For the most part, Irene says she enjoys the food that the chefs prepare. But on the off chance that she’d prefer something else, she says, they’d happily make it for her.
Much like the majority of Baycroft residents, Irene truly values her independence. That’s something the staff are very conscious of – how to strike that balance between building a community and ensuring independence. Irene feels that she’s been able to do as many of the activities as she’d like to, but has never been pushed to do them.
“I’ve done so many things already!” she says, such as visits to a nearby stately home, trips around the local area as well as activities within the home itself.
There’s been trips to the local church for coffee mornings, and visits from local schoolchildren. In many ways, she’s got to know the area around Orpington much better.
Some residents wander past on their way to the lounge, where there is about to be an exercise class.
“I don’t always like doing the exercises – but I do them sometimes,” Irene says. “Those cakes are just too tempting…”