The support given to people across the UK by care homes has been highlighted this week by two royal visits. The Countess of Wessex toured a new facility in Hampshire while Princess Alexandra popped into a long established facility in Surrey with very old royal links to celebrate its volunteers.
Sophie spent Tuesday in Winchester where she officially opened the new home and dementia service, Shared Care, run by Brendoncare of which she has been patron since 2003. Sophie saw a new set of flats designed to allow couples to stay together if one of them is living with dementia. The site, at Otterbourne Hill, is one of a small number of establishments in the UK which provides that possibility.
The countess had laid the foundation stone at Otterbourne in 2016 and this week she returned to see the new apartments which are designed to be dementia friendly. Sophie also had the chance to meet some of those who have now moved into the flats as well as the staff who support them.
On Wednesday, Princess Alexandra paid a visit to the Royal Star and Garter Home in Surbiton. The engagement co-incided with the charity’s Founders’ Day, marking its 103rd anniversary.
The Royal Star and Garter Homes were set up in 1916 on the initiative of Alexandra’s grandmother, Queen Mary, to provide support for wounded veterans. They now look after former military personnel at three homes across England – as well as the Surbiton site visited by Alexandra, there are facilities at Solihull and High Wycombe.
During her visit, Princess Alexandra met many of the residents at the home and heard about the care they receive. She spent time in the physiotheraphy room to see the exercise classes put on there and she was also given a demonstration of an Omni table, an interactive light table which offers help with therapy and movement.
Alexandra also met many of the staff and volunteers who help keep the homes going. Among them was John Parvin who has been volunteering for Royal Star and Garter for over a quarter of a century. In the recent New Years’ Honours List he was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services helping veterans.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Duchess of Cornwall saw the support provided by Jewish Care’s Brenner Centre in Stepney in east London. It offers elderly residents in the area the chance to meet up on a regular basis and Camilla met many of those who have been supported by it.