Suzanne McKenzie, Manager of Abbeyfield Houses in Redland and Henleaze
Hello and thank you for your interest in Abbeyfield Houses in Redland and Henleaze.
My connection to Abbeyfield goes back to my childhood. When I was growing up, my father ran the St Andrews Boys Club in Bermondsey and knew the organisation’s founder, Richard Carr-Gomm. He was later the President of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, where he met with Mr Carr-Gomm again several times. Abbeyfield used to, and still does, welcome volunteers from the scheme each year.
After a great nursing career, I was ready for a new challenge and was delighted to be offered an opportunity as the manager of Abbeyfield House in Henleaze 10 years ago. I’ve seen some big changes in that time, including the fantastic refurbishments of Abbeyfield Houses in Redland and Keynsham, and the newly-built Kift Lodge in Hanham.
All the houses are in lovely, but very different, locations and they are all unique in style. We have something for everyone in the Bristol area. Our Abbeyfield houses in Redland and Henleaze are both wonderful Victorian buildings, very typical of the areas. They’re only a mile apart from each other and sit on the edge of the famous Durdham Downs, just outside the city centre.
Residents in our Redland house love the idea of having a house within a home. They value their independence and enjoy the convenience of the bus stop outside the front door.
Our house in Henleaze is a bit more olde worlde and residents there love the sense of community. Many of the residents in both houses moved from various parts of the country to be near their families in Bristol, which is lovely.
Abbeyfield is special because it gives people a new lease of life. Many residents tell me how they used to be lonely living on their own, and in our houses, they get to meet to friends and enjoy companionship once more. Residents also rave about the delicious meals – especially the men!
The reassurance that a team member is always on hand is something we are told gives residents, and their families, great peace of mind. The only need to press a button and someone will be there for them within seconds.
We’ve stayed safe during the Covid-19 pandemic because we got on board very early on and have been strict in adhering to the government guidelines. It’s been difficult for residents who are used to going out and about, but at least they have each other to spend time with. We’ve seen a lot of camaraderie within the houses. It must be awful for people living on their own. One lovely lady who has just come to live in our Henleaze house wasn’t put off at all by the 10-day isolation we insist on for new residents. She said, “I’ve been on my own for 7 months. Another 10 days is a walk in the park”.