Retirees Continue to Live Life to the Full During Lockdown

When the country went into lockdown earlier this year due to COVID-19, many of us struggled to keep doing the things we enjoyed. However, lockdown was no match for the residents of McCarthy and Stone’s Shilling Place Retirement Living development in Purbrook, who found new ways to continue to live life to the full.

 

House Manager, Gail Close led the charge by getting creative to keep residents happy and healthy, as she explains:

“We have such a wonderful and active community here at Shilling Place, I wanted to make sure that lockdown didn’t get in the way of that spirit, and everyone still felt connected and happy. I know all our residents like to get out and about, and we’re fortunate that many of them benefit from their own balcony or patio, so I thought why not host some light exercise classes? I stood in the garden to lead the class, and everyone joined in from their own balcony or patio. It was a great way for them all to see each other, enjoy some uplifting music and keep active.

“Although we’ve been unable to get together in the communal lounge, I’ve tried to find safe ways to offer little treats. I’ve collected fish and chips for everyone to enjoy in their own apartments and at Easter delivered individual crispy cakes decorated with chocolate eggs to each resident. I’ve also treated them all to strawberries and cream.”

Ray moved into a new apartment at Shilling Place in October and is just one of the residents who has been enjoying Gail’s keep fit classes.

“I moved to Shilling Place because I wanted to sit back and relax during my retirement and spend my time doing the things I enjoyed rather than worrying about the upkeep of a house. I also wanted a place where I could interact with people and I knew moving to a smaller property elsewhere wouldn’t offer that.

“I’ve made some wonderful friends. I have a group I play pool with every day and regularly attend the social events Gail organises for us. It’s a shame that lockdown meant our communal lounge had to be closed but Gail and the team have really made sure we can keep our community spirit alive over the last few months.

“The exercise classes were a fantastic idea. I really enjoyed seeing everyone, albeit at a distance, and joining in the fun. I can’t praise Gail enough. She’s always cheerful and ready to help where she can.

“I’ve also been keeping in contact with everyone here over the phone, and every day at 11am my neighbour, Pat, and I meet for a coffee and chat on our balconies – something I wouldn’t have been able to do if I lived elsewhere. It’s been wonderful to start to get together a little bit in the garden now and I look forward to when we can begin enjoying our social events again in the lounge.”

Ray’s neighbour, Pat, also joined in the classes: “We all had quite the laugh during Gail’s exercise classes, some sessions were hilariously funny. It was so lovely to be able to see everybody and really have some fun together.

“We’ve all had to get a little bit more creative with keeping in touch. My friend who lives in the apartment above spent lockdown knitting a rabbit and wanted to show me, so she lowered him down on a piece of thread from her balcony to mine! It’s great we can start to get together a bit more and I’ve started to knit with my friends again, although most of the time we do more talking than knitting!

“I used to live in a two bedroom bungalow with a large garden and had no plans to move, but when my daughter saw Shilling Place being built across the road from where my brother lives, she asked me to take a look. The apartment is easier for me to manage, my balcony is lovely and I’ve made lots of friends. It was the best decision I’ve ever made and I’ve never looked back!”

Gail finishes: “Although none of us could ever have anticipated lockdown and the challenges, everyone here has really taken it in their stride. I’m so proud of how the community has kept positive and active.”

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