It’s difficult to really appreciate your retirement options as your get older. Many people dislike the idea of a care home and the fees can be off-putting. But Abbeyfield Bristol & Keynsham really does offer a real alternative, says Chief Executive, Frances Stretton.

“It’s hugely rewarding to know we’re providing something really special for people in their later years”, says Frances. “It’s understandable that many people want to stay in their own homes as they get older, but sometimes it just becomes too stressful: not just sorting out the admin, insurance, and bills, but also the physical side – struggling to maintain a property, or to keep the garden under control. We really see residents start to enjoy life again when they come to us”.

When was Abbeyfield founded?

Abbeyfield was founded in 1956 by Richard Carr-Gomm, who recognised that many retired and older people were living alone and feeling isolated. His vision was to build friendly and supportive communities of people who want to live together in their later years. In Bristol, we’ve been providing self-contained apartments to the over-65’s at our properties since 1966.

What makes Abbeyfield stand out from the crowd?

Loneliness for older people is a big issue. It’s also tough when you realise you’re not coping well on your own. I think the options are confusing and many people think a ‘care home’ is their only choice.

With a resident at Abbeyfield House, Redland, Bristol

We offer a wonderful alternative without the commitment to buying your own home. Residents can rent a lovely en-suite apartment, make it their own and generally live the lives as they did before, but with less stress. We cook their meals, pay the bills, and there’s often entertainment in the houses too, and trips away. There’s always someone to chat to and, most importantly, there’s always a team member around 24 hours a day 7 days a week, which residents and families both find reassuring.

Where are the houses?

We have gorgeous houses in Redland, Henleaze, Easter Compton, Keynsham and Hanham.  They are all lovely and offer something different in terms of style and feel.

What kinds of costs are involved?

Rents start at around £350 per week – we aim to be affordable to everyone. Fees vary from house to house and also depend on whether residents choose a studio or one-bedroom apartment.  The grea thing is that our fees are full inclusive of council tax all utility bills and meals, making life pretty easy.

What’s the secret of a happy community?

Companionship with like-minded people is probably a huge part of it. It’s well-documented these days that nobody thrives when they are isolated, whatever their age. Being connected with others on a regular basis helps us feel we belong, and the impact on our happiness and well-being is huge.