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Diana serving in the bistro

Diana serving in the bistro

‘Bistro Belle’ shuns retirement with care home ‘job’ – aged 86!

A retired policewoman from East Sussex has gone back to ‘work’ after finding a life of leisure isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Diana Cornwell, 86, is a resident at Hastings Court care home on The Ridge.  She worked as a police officer in Penge in south London and moved to Hastings for a life by the sea when she came to the end of her career.  But the desire to be useful never left her and made her restless – so the home has given her a ‘job’.

Along with fellow residents Doreen Harmer, 89, and Claire Braybon, 59, Diana has become a ‘Bistro Belle’ serving refreshments in the home’s coffee shop and touring the floors twice a day with the snack trolley.  The trio have tabards and name badges and are thrilled to have a purpose to their day.

“I like to feel that I am useful,” said Diana.  “I worked for many years and much as it’s lovely to be able to relax and enjoy the entertainment here, I wanted to have a role, something people expected me to be there to do.”

The ladies are responsible for taking orders, serving drinks, clearing glasses and making sure tables are re-stocked with sugar and sweetener.  Their roles have been fully risk-assessed and all three Bistro Belles are supported by staff at the home.

Purpose-built, Hastings Court has 80 bedrooms and offers person-centred residential, nursing, memory and respite care.

Diana on her trolley round

Diana on her trolley round

“There’s always the chance that when our families grow up or retirement comes along, we can feel a little adrift so we are thrilled to be able to give these ladies the purpose they sought,” said Hastings Court manager, Georgina Gamble.  “Years ago homes just wouldn’t have allowed residents to get involved in this way.  But our care is about helping people to live the kind of lives they want to, and if that means supporting them to work here, then that’s what we’ll do.

“It has the added benefit of keeping them mentally and physically fit but most of all it’s making them happy.”

It’s not the first time the home has responded to residents’ requests to take responsibility for activities. With the support of the staff, Doreen organised a teddy bears’ picnic back in February for residents’ families which nearly 30 youngsters and their parents enjoyed.

“Having a significant task to do can be transformational,” said Georgina.  “These ladies go to bed at the end of the day feeling happy and fulfilled, and we do too.”

“It’s just wonderful,” agreed Diana.  “I feel like one of the staff team with my badge and my ‘uniform.’  I love it!”

Clare receives her name badge

Clare receives her name badge

Hastings Court is a purpose built, 80 bed care home on the outskirts of Hastings, run by Oakland Care. It provides person-centred residential, nursing, memory and respite care. 

Posted 10:44 Wednesday, Sep 25, 2019 In: Hastings People

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