There really is no better of way of finding out what it's like to live in a care home than to hear from the residents themselves, and we're delighted to be able to share this resident's stories. Phil, otherwise known as the 'Bickerton Blogger, can be found on the home's Facebook page in videos describing his time at Bickerton House, so make sure to check those out to see the man in action! Here's some of what he had to say...
"I came into this home with a lady called Tracey (CRM). She was introduced to me and immediately gave me a coffee and then showed me round. My first impressions of the place? Fantastic! I thought it was a hotel, not a care home. She showed me round, and I said 'I’d love to stay here myself', but the reason I came was because my wife has dementia. Tracey suggested that I come back the following week, which I did with my wife. We showed her around and a few days later, Tracey said 'Would you like to bring your wife here on Monday?' I thought 'fantastic, this will give me a few days to pack some stuff'. I came and brought my wife in? she settled in quite nicely. I kept coming because I fell in love with this place – I’m being honest about that, it’s absolutely true. This is fabulous.
"I came to visit my wife on a regular basis and then, when this coronavirus started, when I came in to visit, they said 'How would you like to go and pack a case, come back and stay for a month’s respite?' I said that was a good idea, as I was a bit worried about being on my own in my own house. I’d already decided after being here a few times that I wanted to live here anyway! My sons were in total agreement, because it took a weight off their shoulders. So I packed a case and moved in - it was either 16th or 17th March - and I’ve been here ever since. I have got to know every nook and cranny - this is now my home and that’s exactly how I feel. This is a really fantastic place. The staff, well I can’t say they look after me ‘hand and foot’, they look after me ‘hand and stomach’ - I’ve put on a stone in weight! If I’m having a low minute, someone will take the time to come and sit with me, and chat to me. I can walk into the Reception, pour myself a coffee, sit down and chat to the staff. They’ll come out and say 'how are you, Phil?' - it’s fabulous. I’m trying to get to know everyone by name, because I feel they are my family, extended family. I would highly recommend this place."
A few weeks later, Phil sat down with the camera again to share his thoughts on all things food and give an update on how he's getting on:
"This week, I want to talk about this place and the wonderful chefs. The food here is so good, I’ve put on so much weight, it’s disgraceful! Robert, the head chef, is supported by Johnny, Susan, Marlena, Carmen et al in the kitchens. (Not “Al”, I don’t know who Al is!) The food is terrific. If they haven’t got it on the menu, ask. They will do their best to accommodate what you want to eat.
"Breakfast - you can have the full cooked breakfast, or you can just have a slice of toast. Then you’ve got elevenses! With cake, homemade, possibly by the residents or certainly Susan, who is brilliant at cakes. Then lunch. Soups? Yes! Main course, I mean big ticks! Today, I had fish pie. Fish pie as you’ve never tasted, it was gorgeous! That I promise you, I really really enjoyed it.
I’ve gone to sit back in my room for five minutes and what happens? Tea and cakes arrive, always around three o’clock. Again, you can understand why I’m getting so big?
"And then we all relax for a while, wander round in the beautiful gardens of this place, ‘this wonderful place’ as I say again and again. And then supper time, or tea time, whatever you like to call it. Again, a full menu anything you wish, and if you don’t like it, some glorious sandwiches will come out, some cheese and biscuits, or some fruit. It is fantastic, the food here is to die for. This is as good as any five star hotel I’ve ever been to.
"Now the girls here - yes, I think they’re all putting on the same weight as me as they’re all tucking in at the same time! My wife, up on the dementia floor, is looking so happy with the care she’s receiving. She’s enjoying her food no end, I’m really pleased with the way she’s going. I can’t wait to thank the care staff here for how they’re looking after her, it’s absolutely tremendous, I really think so.
On top of that, you will have some pictures coming up of the gardens we’re creating in the courtyard, all the flowers that have been planted. They look gorgeous! Plus, we’re getting the odd parasol here and there, it’s starting to look like a Mediterranean retreat rather than a care home in Bracknell.
If you want a loved one to go somewhere, and know they’re going to be looked after, you can’t do any better than here." - Thanks Phil!