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11th August 2016

Holyhead care home sets high accommodation standards with married couples' rooms

A care home in Holyhead is bringing back the romance by building a luxurious bridal suite for couples – as well as a fully stocked resident bar for ‘date nights’.

The £500,000 makeover at Gwyddfor Residential Home in Holyhead, a CFW member, has created nine extra bedrooms – including a two-room suite for married couples. There’s also a brand new 2.8m-long bar stocked with the residents’ favourite tipples.

TV interior designer Mandy Watkins, who is the design expert on S4C’s ‘Cyfnewid’ programme, is leading the revamp, which got underway in November last year. 

The initiative has been praised by Care Forum Wales chair Mario Kreft who congratulated the home for continuing to push the boundaries of high quality care.

He said: “Gwyddfor has created a thriving community which is greatly enhancing the wellbeing of its residents.

"The home is a shining example of what can be achieved with a can-do attitude to care and I’m sure there will be couple’s queuing to move into its new honeymoon suite.”

Building a 'micro community' to help combat loneliness and depression

Former RAF soldier and commercial pilot Glyn Williams, 53, who co-owns the home with 52-year-old Mary, his wife of 34 years, said: “We wanted to build a micro-community in the home – if you can develop that then you’re halfway there.

“The most rewarding thing for me is when someone moves in and says they wish they’d moved here four or five years ago. Most of the time, they’ve been in their own home suffering from loneliness and depression and we quickly turn their life around.

“I’m really proud and looking forward to welcoming our first married couple into the new bridal suite. We want them to arrange it as they please so we’re leaving these two rooms until last to furnish so we can get an input from the new residents.

Married couples' accommodation an 'amazing idea'

“It’s quite an unusual move for a care home but we thought there was a market there for married couples wanting the extra room and everybody who has come to look at it has thought it’s an amazing idea.”

Word has already spread about the bridal suite and Gwyddfor has potential clients wanting to move in.

The suite comprises two rooms with an adjoining door which can be used as two single rooms or a family-style suite with sofa and living area and bedroom, depending on the preference of the couple.

“It’s very homely and that was always the plan. The walls are decorated in Portland Stone and we’re lucky to have the TV designer Mandy Watkins onboard,” said Glyn, who scoured the country with his wife looking for an ideal care home to buy when he retired from the RAF after 25 years.

“She’s absolutely brilliant and we really appreciate her advice. She has done lots of research on dementia-friendly environments. We were determined to build a dementia-friendly environment but wanted to tone it down a little and make it homely. It’s worked really well.

“When people come through the door now they say ‘wow, this is home’ That’s really important to us."

New bar is an instant hit with residents

Gwyddfor's bar has been an instant hit with residents, many of whom are ex-Army, Navy and RAF veterans and are partial to a glass of rum or two. It has become focal part of the social scene within the home which is one of the reasons why the home owners decided to refurbish and expand it. It is also a place married residents can go to remember their courting days.

“At the time of the first extension we had a gentlemen living with us who we used to take down the pub regularly,” said Glyn, an electronics engineer who specialised in long range radar and ground-to-air missile systems while in the RAF.

“Unfortunately, he became quite frail and we couldn’t take him any more so we decided to bring the pub to him which inspired us to build a bar.

“We have a chap for whom going to the pub is his favourite activity. He’s looking forward to the bar coming back online. We also have three ex-navy residents who love their rum. I was in the RAF for 25 years and my facilities manager, Steve, is ex-Army so you can just imagine the banter that goes on between all the veterans.

“The bar really is their pride and joy. It’s important we still create a community in here. We still have pubs in communities. It’s a central focus and meeting place.

“We had a lady with severe dementia living with us. When she went into the bar it was like she was going somewhere else, she used to even ask us to arrange transport. She would dress up and always put something special on. That’s got to be what it’s all about. It’s about making life homely and community based.

“We often have families giving us a bottle of whiskey or rum as a present for behind the bar. We do have to watch the medication, however, and my wife keeps a close eye on who can have a drink and who can’t.”

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