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happy at


Free to be


Summerlands


When I arrived at Summerlands Residential Care Home in Haywards Heath, I noticed that although there was a signing-in/out book, the front door was open.


by Roger Linn I 84


t was no accident. The door is always unlocked – during the daytime at least – sending a small but significant signal about the ethos of this characterful residential home: here, freedom of the individual is greatly prized. Independence and dignity are


regarded as absolute rights for all residents and they are encouraged to exercise personal choices, including what Summerlands refer to as ‘responsible risk-taking’, where the individual makes decisions about their personal safety. We’re not talking bungee jumping here, but everyday activities like going shopping or doing some domestic chores – but only if the person wants to do such things. “We want our residents to feel they can behave as naturally here as they did when they were in their own homes,” says Deborah Cresswell, one of Summerlands’ owners. It is a policy that is much appreciated by residents and their relatives, as this little story


SUSSEX LIVING October 2011


demonstrates: One elderly lady had come in for a week’s trial period, at the end of which she said to her daughter: ‘I’m very happy here, so please don’t put me in a ‘home’. Praise indeed. Deborah and her husband, who already own a Nursing Home in Nottinghamshire, acquired Summerlands in April 2010 jointly with a friend from the IT industry. “I’ve worked at every level within a care home environment,” says Deborah, “and it gives me great satisfaction to be part of a management team that’s really hands- on.” In fact, the reason Deborah got into the business in the first place was her desire to give up her regular job for “something more


meaningful”. Much more than a cold business venture, Summerlands is a labour of love – and it shows. Although Summerlands already had an excellent reputation prior


“Over 90% of our people stay here for all their days.”


to 2010, since the change of ownership a great deal of work has


taken place to further improve the residents’ comfort and quality of life. Many of these projects have been behind the scenes, like new cold water storage tanks and laundry equipment,


www.sussexliving.com


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