Estate Manager shares experience of lockdown

Andrea Stewart started her role as Estates Manager at McCarthy Stone’s Williamson Court in Lancaster in April 2020. It was two weeks into the first national lockdown. Andrea is responsible for the day-to-day running of the development and is the first port of call for the community of over-70s that live there. 

 

Andrea knew she had a challenge on her hands then, but she believes the second most recent national lockdown that began in December, has been the hardest to bear. 

Andrea comments: “The biggest challenge we face at the moment is boredom. Everyone here is extremely compliant because they are all of similar age and circumstances. What we don’t have now that we had in March, is the good weather. What all my homeowners tell me they miss the most is going out for brunch, for meals. Something I think we’re all desperate to get back to!”

At Williamson Court all of the homeowners live independently in their own apartments – whether privately owned or rented.  Andrea describes how no two days are ever the same, and especially now dealing with the pandemic.

Where she’s able Andrea tries to find ways of easing the situation on everyone at Williamson Court.  

She explains: “Every Thursday morning we organise a cake run where our homeowners have a choice of cake delivered to their doors. We also do a gin trolley on a Friday night so they have a little treat to look forward to on the weekend. One of our carers, Elaine, takes on the role which she does voluntarily and is something we have maintained throughout.”
 
Andrea has also helped to set-up a telephone delivery service with the local SPAR convenience store next door, so homeowners can have groceries delivered to their doors for free meaning they don’t have to leave their apartment. When they require something more, Andrea and her team make regular trips to post letters and retrieve special requests like a favourite bottle of wine or packet of biscuits, and if these can’t be found at the SPAR. She is only too happy to help.

Almost all the homeowners and staff have now received their first Covid-19 vaccinations at Williamson Court, with a small majority who are slightly younger in age, hoping to be in the next wave. 

Andrea describes receiving her vaccine: “It was a big relief and I feel very lucky that I was offered it. Nothing matters more to me than keeping Covid out of this development and away from my homeowners so we must do everything in our power to do that.”
 

Andrea and her team were able to host a range of socially distanced outdoor activities last year, with homeowners enjoying sweet treats and coffee in the gardens, a Remembrance Sunday afternoon tea, as well as quizzes and plenty of dressing up from the staff for Elf Day, Burns Night and Christmas jumper day in an effort to raise a few smiles.  

One positive to come out of lockdown Andrea says is the individual bonds she’s formed with the homeowners.

She explains: “Before, there would be great big get-togethers in the communal lounge, parties, games nights, coffee mornings. That’s all had to be paused for now of course. However I do see the homeowners as they walk past the front desk, and from a safe distance we can have a one-to-one chat and it’s really nice because you have that chance away from everything, to learn so much more about them. It’s the part of my day I look forward to the most.”

Andrea has enjoyed a long career in health and social care and is a mum to four boys, including fifteen year old twins, but in 2018 Andrea decided to take a break and start her own business in outside catering. It was very successful and she was able to sell the business in just two years in February 2020 prompting her move back into social care, albeit in a very different type of role now managing an estate at Williamson Court. 

Speaking of her enjoyment for her role as Estates Manager, Andrea says, “There’s nothing not to love, it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to take the hassle and maintenance of keeping a property away from the homeowners and support them to lead their independent lives. Usually within six months of moving-in to Williamson Court, the homeowners blossom into what I can only describe as what they would have been like 10 years prior - relaxed, happy and full of life. It’s a joy to witness. 

“The support that both the team and the homeowners have received from McCarthy Stone has been second to none.  McCarthy Stone have sent magazines to the development for the homeowners to enjoy, hosted virtual talks and entertainment. Had I not been at work during these last few months I don’t know what I would have done. Coming here to Williamson Court has been my saviour really.”

Andrea has welcomed some new faces as a result of the supportive, yet independent lifestyle on offer at Williamson Court, with a number of apartments still available to those looking to move. 

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