For many couples, the prospect of moving into a care home in later life can be emotional after years of married-life under one roof. Our RMBI care homes have provided residency to 39 couples since 2017, who have all chosen to make the transition into a care home, together.
Our Marketing Manager, Rachel, met with 80-year-old, Margueritte and 81-year-old, Michael, residents at Prince Michael Duke of Kent in Chislehurst, to find out how staying together in an RMBI home has helped them to enjoy later life.
Spring has officially sprung and sunlight is streaming in through the windows. In one corner of the room a bookshelf heaves under volumes of the old classics; in another, a giant scrabble board is propped up against the wall.
“We met in 1960 at an army dance,” Margueritte begins to tell me. “We were married a year later and have one daughter – it’s our 58th anniversary this year. Michael became a freemason a couple of years later and he went through the chair twice, so I was first lady of the lodge for a while too! We have very fond memories of ladies’ nights and white table evenings.”
“When we got older, Michael started to find it hard to walk –”
“I could walk,” Michael interjects with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
“No, you couldn’t,” Marghueritte laughs, then turns back to me. “I looked after him myself for as long as I could, but after seven years it got too much for me. I struggled to get him up and down the stairs and into bed, and in the last year he fell over several times and ended up in hospital. At the same time, I was looking after my daughter who has disabilities, and it was just too much. We had carers come in to help for a few months, but in the end we decided he had to move into a care home.
“As a freemason, had you heard of our RMBI care homes before?” I ask Michael.
“No, I hadn’t,” he says. “But I had supported masonic charity for many years. A friend took me to visit a few different homes, and I liked this one the best so I settled on here.”
“The home was good for Michael and it was a relief to know that he was being properly cared for,” Margueritte agrees. “But, having been a Bank Manager for years, he had always managed our finances and without him I struggled. My mental health deteriorated and the change had a big impact on our daughter too.
“Around the same time, the arthritis in my hands got worse and I started to find it difficult to move around. If I bent down, I couldn’t get back up again. Nine months after Michael moved into Prince George Duke of Kent, I decided I needed to move into a home too. I knew straight away that I wanted to come here and be with my husband, but was worried because our care needs are different. Luckily, it was possible for me to move into the residential house while Michael lives in the dementia support house.
“Now that we’re settled in, it works really well for us. I pop in to see Michael during the day and we have supper together in the evening, but I can still have my independence too. There’s a nice garden that I walk around when the weather is nice – if I make it round once, I challenge myself to go round two or three more times.
“We also go on days out occasionally, including on shopping trips. When I’m out at the shops, I’ll pick up a few little bits for Michael such as the razors he likes or a new aftershave, and it’s just like the old days.”
I ask Margueritte what she would say to other couples who are considering moving into a care home.
“Well, when you can’t get yourself up out of a chair anymore, you don’t have much choice!” When Margueritte laughs we can’t help but join in.
“But, honestly, I would say it will be okay. The staff are lovely, and there are people to help you through the whole process. Don’t worry about a thing.”
The RMBI offer residential care, nursing care and dementia support. We can also provide sheltered accommodation for people who prefer to live independently as well as short respite breaks.
To find out more about any of the RMBI homes, including locations, eligibility criteria, advice and information about paying for care, please get in touch:
020 7596 2400