Real Lives

How a YMCA legacy blossomed into a Wish Tree

Kim Retter, Registered Manager, Compton View Residential Home

For over thirty years, Kim Retter has been part of the social care sector, spreading her quality of care delivery and knowledge to people who draw on services, their families and her teams.

Since Kim assumed the role of registered manager at Compton View Residential Home shortly after the Covid Pandemic, her primary objective has been to maintain the home’s atmosphere of warmth and familiarity. Equally important to Kim has been infusing the home with joy, laughter, friendships, and companionships, enabling residents to live their lives to the fullest.

After familiarising herself with each resident’s favourite pastimes, Kim introduced a sing-along following each monthly Residents’ Forum. It was during one of these sessions that Kim noticed a particular tune, the iconic ‘YMCA’ by The Village People, resonated deeply with one resident, who enthusiastically performed all the actions to the song. Encouraged by Kim, she took the lead and shared the moves with the group.

Following this delightful moment, a wave of applause quickly followed, and from then on, this song became a new anthem at Compton View. Watching every resident join in was a truly joyous moment, serving as a fun way to engage in armchair exercises without feeling like exercise at all.

After her passing, staff and residents celebrated the life of the resident who had inspired the Compton View anthem and had initiated the moves now known as the ‘YMCA Wave’. It seemed fitting that her celebration of life within the home included everyone singing ‘YMCA’ as a tribute to her—a remembrance of positivity during a sad time and a farewell to a dear friend.

With a passion for providing the best end of life care, Kim has always commemorated every life lost at the beginning of each new year. Residents’ remembrance services typically include a sherry and a sing-along to celebrate the lives of those who have passed. Some families still maintain contact with the home, where their most cherished memories of their loved ones are held. The remarkable bond that Kim and her team have formed with the families of the residents has resulted in invaluable volunteers coming in and supporting activities, while still feeling the presence of their loved ones.

More recently, during Kim’s daily walk around the home for ongoing interaction with her team and residents, she took the time to assist a lady with her lunch. As they chatted, ITV’s ‘Loose Women’ was on the television, with the panel discussing their plans for 2023. This sparked an idea with Kim, who casually suggested to the resident: “Why don’t we work on granting all the residents a wish?”.

The resident’s smile solidified the idea for Kim. A plan was set in motion that day, and the residents’ ‘Wish Tree’, as it was named, began to take shape. Kim spoke to each resident to discover if they had an achievable wish for 2023 that they would like to have granted. Some wish requests included a trip on a bus, going out for lunch, visiting a hair salon, a trip to the beach, and walking for dementia. With no barriers to requests, Fairy Godmother Kim ensured that all wishes were fulfilled, even bringing the beach to Compton View!

As the Wish Tree flourishes with requests, so does Kim’s unwavering dedication, breaking down barriers and turning dreams into reality with each wish granted



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