“I thought I’d won the lottery”, says Clive Sherwin on being told he could enjoy an extra week of respite care at the Richmond retirement village in Painswick. “I really wasn’t looking forward to going home in this dreadful weather – this is fantastic news”.
Mr Sherwin had originally booked himself in for a two-week respite stay, but he had become such a popular guest in the care home that Susie Oakley, general manager at Richmond Village, extended his stay by further week without charge. “Since coming here Mr Sherwin has become a part of the family,” says Susie, “and with all this poor weather, we felt it unfair that he should struggle on alone at home. We therefore suggested he stay on another week by when hopefully all the snow will have gone.”
For the ex RAF chef, the short stay at Richmond Village has been ‘like coming home to a family’. Mr Sherwin, 58, who is confined to a wheelchair, says that his stay at the stylish Cotswold retirement village in Painswick has been a revelation to him. “I have been for respite care at a number of places but nothing compares to the care and facilities I have found here”, he says, whose disabilities include having to keep his legs fully extended, as both his knee caps have disintegrated.
Mr Sherwin spent months searching across the UK for a suitable place for some respite care, but found that he was either considered too young or his disability too inconvenient for them to deal with. “The places that do take you feel institutionalised, and are really just another version of hospital. Here you are treated with great dignity and care, and the staff are what I call caring carers – nothing is too much trouble”.
The fact that his stay coincided with the Arctic temperatures meant that he did not have to worry about carers battling through snow to look after him. “Here you just ring a bell and one of the carers come straight away - it’s wonderful. Their dedication is incredible and during the heaviest snowfalls some of them even stayed overnight so that they could be at work the next day.”
Staying during the coldest snap in 20 years also proved to be an unexpected bonus. “I booked a couple of weeks in Gloucestershire and it feels like I have been to Austria”, laughs Mr Sherwin, who has spent much of his stay photographing the panoramic snowy views from the Richmond Village terrace.
Mr Sherwin - who lives in sheltered housing at Kidlington in Oxfordshire - was also able to bring TJ, his cavalier King Charles spaniel. “Most places don’t let you bring pets. TJ has loved it here and feels very much at home.” Care home manager Jo Walters says she had no hesitation in letting TJ join Mr Sherwin. “We always do a home visit pre-assessment for nursing needs before anyone comes to stay, so we can see what they require and make any adaptations or changes before they arrive. When I met Mr Sherwin and saw how attached he was to TJ it was clear he had to come, too! We will miss them both when they return home.”
Mr Sherwin has been most impressed by the facilities, especially the computer room and library which he visits every day. “Richmond has got it just right – they recognise that whatever your age, computers and technology provide a lifeline and an interest for people like me"
He adds that he will leave Richmond Village with an overwhelming sense of being valued and cared for as an individual. “I live a very isolated life and have no family, but my stay here has made me feel like I have finally found one. It’s all I ever wanted.”