Expectations are revisited at two McCarthy & Stone properties in Retirement homes in Yorkshire, where you can findfriendship, fine food and plenty of humour
Joining homeowners for a coffee morning at one of McCarthy & Stone’s developments is like being allowed into a unique club: the welcome is warm, the conversations interesting and there are more than enough drinks and cakes to go round.
“I put it down to the fact that we’re all such like-minded people,” says Elizabeth Pearson, 72, who moved into a two- bedroom apartment last September with her husband Michael, 74, a retired businessman.
Party Time - There’s always an excuse to socialise
“Living here is like having a buffer between you and the hassles of everyday life – it feels very much like being part of a gated community, with security and a great social life, combined perfectly with the privacy of having your own apartment.”
Thanks to top-quality double glazing, the apartments are supremely peaceful and relaxing. Sunlight streams through well-proportioned windows into rooms that feel light and airy. The good-sized living rooms easily accommodate enough furniture to make them feel homely but not cluttered, and there is plenty of space for a table and chairs where you can enjoy your home cooking.
The kitchens have high- quality appliances with the convenience of an oven at waist height along with a large, fitted upright fridge- freezer. The kitchens I saw enjoyed views across the well-kept gardens that surround the development. Each bedroom features either a walk-in wardrobe or one that is fitted with smooth, sliding doors. The bathrooms – there are two in the two-bedroom apartments and one in those with a single bedroom – are practical yet stylish and many have walk-in showers. Julie Middleton is the customer service executive at Ryebeck Court and says that specifications can be tweaked, particularly for those buying off -plan.
One of Middleton’s roles is to help homeowners settle in to their new homes; many have moved out of large properties where they may have lived for decades.
“We can even arrange for everything to be unpacked at this end, but many people enjoy doing that themselves.”
Clifford Hughes, 87, and his wife Lena, 86, became the first couple to move into the development last April. Clifford insists this was the best move they could have made at this stage of their lives.
“Here we find ourselves in the greatest place with the greatest neighbours. Most people join in with the social side of things – but of course we respect those who don’t want that.” Hughes, a retired engineer, and Lena, who used to be a doctor’s receptionist, particularly enjoy the twice-weekly lm nights in the lounge. Elizabeth and Michael Pearson also take great interest in whatever social events are taking place.
The Pearsons have a background in catering. “When word got out about that we soon had neighbours sidling up to us wondering whether we might put on the food for events and celebrations,” Elizabeth says. Pearson says that an unexpected pleasure to come out of moving to Ryebeck Court is the opportunity to learn about other people’s lives. “We have so many wonderful personal stories to share,” he says. “I never tire of learning about the lives of my neighbours and it’s not about boasting, ‘Oh, I did this or I did that.’ It’s simply that conversations seem to gently turn into anecdotes that are as enjoyable for the person who’s telling them as they are for the listeners.”
As well as socialising in the lounge, neighbours often meet in the foyer to go off into the local town together for externally run clubs and events. “And we make great use of the patio outside when the weather is good, sharing the odd bottle of wine and plenty of laughter,” Elizabeth says.
“Honestly, most days I feel as if I’m on holiday.”
At McCarthy & Stone’s Assisted Living developments staff are available all day, every day. In these properties, new homeowners are asked before they move in whether they are happy for staff to call round at their apartment if they haven’t been seen or heard from throughout the day. “We don’t do this in an intrusive way,” says Kelly Worgan, estate manager at Thackrah Court, an Assisted Living development for the over-70s in Leeds, where support is always on hand. “We just get to know everyone so well here that we soon get a sense when something might not be quite right. “It’s very reassuring both for homeowners and their loved ones to know that there is always someone here, looking out for them, 24 hours a day.” The gardens at Thackrah Court are delightful. Great swathes of lavender and miniature roses meet with huge clumps of ornate hydrangea. The lawns are neatly edged and there isn’t a weed in sight.
Homeowners Professor Michael Woolfson, 89, and his wife Margaret, 87, recently enjoyed their 65th wedding anniversary with family and friends in one of the two communal lounges at the development, which has a terrace leading out into the gardens.
“It’s a lovely space to entertain in,” says Prof Woolfson, a scientist and author. “At other times we have lm nights in there and people often play bridge. There’s a book club and exercise classes – there’s no need to be bored. “Life can become rather lonely when you get older, particularly if you aren’t terribly mobile. And the great thing about this place is you get to spend plenty of time with people like yourself and it gives you quite a boost.”
Prof Woolfson has a health condition that requires careful attention to diet. “Before we moved in, the chef called to reassure me that very special efforts would be taken on my behalf, and they have been. The staff all look out for us as though we’re members of their own family. It really is a lovely place to live.”