Tracy Paine, Deputy Chief Executive of Belong, describes how care village models create a range of options for couples to continue living together against the odds
Creating a sense of belonging when people move into care settings is often easier said than done, especially if that move involves estrangement from a lifelong partner.
It was partly in recognition of this that the Belong village model sought from the start to accommodate couples, who may have different care requirements, within the same community.
A case in point is Edmund and Margaret Peace, who first came into contact with Belong when Margaret was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moved into a household at Belong Warrington, where the 24-hour care support she needed could be provided.
Although she settled well and Edmund felt reassured she was in the right setting, the move meant he had a ten-mile round bus trip to visit her.
This changed, however, when an apartment became available at the village. Designed for independent living, apartments are a fundamental aspect of each Belong village complex, ensuring there are a range of options to suit people’s differing circumstances. For Edmund, it meant he was able to rejoin Margaret and enjoy daily life with her again, rather than coming to Belong as a ‘visitor’.
Speaking about how his situation has improved since moving to Belong Warrington, he said: “It’s the best thing that could have happened. I love my apartment and Margaret receives the care she needs, while I can see her anytime.”
Part of a wider community
Edmund is also actively involved with village life in other ways, using his many talents to contribute to events and activities taking place. From volunteering his time to maintain the raised flower beds in the village gardens and helping with potted flower displays on the balconies to crocheting a wide array of creations for Christmas fairs and Easter raffles, his enthusiasm and support has helped enrich the lives of many in the village.
“Living in a Belong village community, with its bistro, gardens and function rooms has improved our lives in other ways too. We are able to take part in the vibrant programme of events and activities on offer and spend time together or with members of our wider family in the bistro,” explains Edmund.
“On a personal level, it’s also enabled me to find new ways to pursue my hobbies, including tending to plants and gardens around the village.
This combination of meeting people’s personal needs, while creating an environment where relationships can flourish is very much at the heart of what makes the Belong village model so special.
Whether as individuals or couples, the key to creating this sense of fulfilment is offering choices that enable people to continue to live their lives in the ways that suit them.
For some, this may be moving to a Belong apartment together; others move into households together – either taking two suites and using one as a bedroom and one as a living room or just maintaining their own space while living in proximity.
Of course, the accommodation options at Belong are supplemented by the highest standards of nursing and specialist dementia care, and our teams are trained to adapt their practice to provide bespoke personalised care whilst developing and maintaining important relationships.
It’s tremendously uplifting to witness lifelong partners remain together because of Belong. The other day, I witnessed one gentleman, who is living with dementia, visit his wife in her room. He sat down beside her, held her hand and proceeded to sing to her whilst she was asleep. I feel certain that she was comforted by this. What a privilege!