Shirley has been heading up the team at Baycroft Grays Farm Road in Orpington for a month. Here we find out how it’s been so far, her plans for the future – plus who would be her dream dinner party guests!
How has your first month gone?
I’m loving it. I’ve walked into a home, which is very new – it’s only a year old – but the staff have been wonderful. It just feels right and there are so many things that can be developed here, so much potential and a beautiful location.
I really love the concept at Baycroft, the whole elegance of the presentation and environment.
What’s your background?
I was at one of the last enrolled nurse schools, years ago in Yorkshire. I’m not actually from Yorkshire but I feel like Yorkshire adopted me. I went up there when I was 18 months old and did my nursing there.
Then I went to Portugal and stayed for 25 years. I was very involved in care out there, although my husband and I also started our own businesses too – in clothing and in skincare. In fact, we’ve just launched a new skincare brand!
But nursing was always there alongside the other things. I came back to the UK and did my conversion and worked for Bupa. We’ve been back here since 2012. Aside from the usual moans about the weather, we’re very happy to be back.
How are you finding life in Orpington?
I didn’t know much about Orpington before starting at Baycroft. The only reason I knew it was I have a friend who lives in Spain and one of her best friends is the vet here! Small world…
But I’m out and about meeting people all the time. I had some phone calls today with people in the community whom we’re hoping to get involved with. There are lots of discoveries to be made.
The home is positioned so nicely – it’s very quiet but there’s also Bromley, Chislehurst… some really beautiful places.
What TV shows do you like to relax to?
I really enjoy anything with sport which I’ve been involved with throughout my life. When we came back to the UK it was the London Olympics and that was brilliant. We watched everything!
In terms of series, there’s a great one called Touch on Netflix about a little boy with autism that explores how his dad learns to communicate with him.
Oh and I love Peter Kay too, he really makes me howl with laughter.
What about ideal dinner guests?
He’s passed away, sadly, but if we are talking about dream guests then Kofi Annan would be number one. I used to love hearing him speak. And how about Cher? That would be a good mix! Plus let’s put Peter Kay in there too.
Finally, what are your plans for the future?
At the moment it’s about making sure there’s a really consistent approach to the home. It’s also about finding out what residents want. We’re having a residents meeting in a couple of weeks to get some feedback on things they like, don’t care for, or would like more of. We’re asking the same to families too – to get an understanding of what’s gone down well over the first year.
I’d really like to develop the restaurant/bistro side. That area is my favourite in the home. I love walking in and seeing people together in that space – it feels so inclusive and welcoming. We have a wonderful chef here so there’s really room to make that something special.
Another thing is to get more involved with the school next door. I’ve seen first hand the difference that bringing younger generations into a home can do. It can have an amazing effect on those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, to bring that energy into the building.
It’s all about culture. You can have all the bells and whistles you want but it’s always about the people working there, what their attitude is, their kindness and truly wanting to be there. That’s the most important thing, which will be a main focus of mine.
To find out more about Baycroft Grays Farm Road, click here.