AT Trimpley Street in Ellesmere a building stands that has been a part of the town for more than 100 years. Although it is passed by hundreds of locals every day, few really know about the hustle of activity that goes on behind its doors.
For the former Cottage Hospital is now home to nine residents who are cared for at the Ellesmere Community Nursing Home, a service that is fast approaching its 20th year.
The ground floor of the building is home to the Meres Day Centre, while the upstairs is where nine elderly residents from the local community call home.
As I followed the home’s manager, Elaine Stockdale, pictured with residents Sister Martha and Jean Faulkner, to one of the lounge areas, I couldn’t help but notice how very homely the building is. Furnished with warming wallpaper designs, the walls were adorned with pictures of the residents on days out to the canal, Christmas dinner at the local pub, Summer days in the garden and themed activities that seem to be an everyday occurrence in the home.
“We have a TV in here but it’s very rarely on,” said Elaine, as she welcomed me into a room used by the residents.
“At the moment they all come in here to play dominoes.”
“It’s very hushed too,” added Mary Williams, a trustee of the Ellesmere Community Care Trust.
“It really does get serious in here at times!”
Elaine, who has devoted 12 years to the home, then produced a photo album and proudly presented the array of events that residents get to take part in, including making a Christmas cake, celebrating Chinese New Year, and having a ‘day at the races’.
“Even the men get involved!” She said.
“But of course, if they don’t want to, they don’t have to do anything they don’t want, it is all about choice.
“The residents have all been here quite a long time now and they get to know each other very well. Most recently we had a foreign fruit tasting session.”
In October 1994 the completed nursing home was opened and revealed a quaint home for seven residents to enjoy life in the heart of Ellesmere. The achievement was made on a budget of £250,000 raised by the trust in a bid to purchase the old Cottage Hospital building.
Mary was one of the first matrons to work at the home in October 1994, and continued to work there until 2001.
But her attachment to the home and its residents has always remained strong.
She said: “It is all about the residents and their daily lives. That is the most important thing here.”
“I hope we can continue the good work for the community. The nursing home has been well used and is well respected as a care centre of high esteem. We have a really good team who go over and above for the patients.”
No birthday goes un-celebrated, no event goes by without some form of celebration, and if there are no events, staff and residents all agree on something fun to do.
Elaine said: “We have a wide variety of activities here, we have fundraising to take the residents out and we go to the garden centre at Christmas and have a meal out at the pub. We do canal trips to Llangollen and have in-house activities like musical days.
“Staff always help out with the activities. We have bingo and baking activities and at Christmas they make gifts for their families.”
This Christmas the home was treated to a visit by the Orthopaedic Choir who sang for the nine residents, an event which Elaine explained gets everyone into the Christmas spirit.
We walked around the home as Elaine chatted to many of the residents who had been taking an afternoon nap. The doors to each room were decorated and had signs with each resident’s name on their own door.
The rooms were spacious and furnished with a television, armchair and a bed as well as their own personal touches to make their room their own space. Each room came with a view of different spots of the town, allowing for peaceful time to watch Ellesmerians going about their daily lives.
“The centre was created for Ellesmerians and those from surrounding areas,” said Mary, who herself has lived near Ellesmere for many years.
It is a good feeling to know that there is still a strong sense of community in the town and that a building designed to care has carried on doing so, and will do for many years to come.