Since joining Anchor in 2014, I have had the pleasure of welcoming countless new residents and building thriving communities at two of the organisation’s newest care homes: Mayflower Court in Southampton and Orchard Gardens care home at Bishopstoke Park retirement village near Winchester.

Part of my role as Customer Relations Manager is to lead on the delivery of Anchor’s person-centred care at these homes. Working closely with residents and their families, I build a personal picture of each resident and get to know them. This enables us to ensure their care and support requirements are based around their personal, individual needs.

One of the most important aspects of my job is helping new people settle in. When a new resident arrives, they are putting their care in your hands, and their family is trusting you to look after their loved one. It can be a difficult time for both the resident and those close to them, adjusting to change, but I embrace this task and work hard to live up to the faith they put in me. 

I have a passion for helping others and it’s this passion that first inspired me to train as a nurse twenty years ago. Since then, I have enjoyed a long and varied career in the care sector, working as both an elderly rehabilitation nurse and as a midwife. With these years of experience comes confidence in the difference you can make to people’s lives. I’m enthusiastic about working with older people, and my background in delivering direct care is a huge help. I understand the needs of our residents and can offer thoughtful input on medical matters, as well as a friendly ear for their questions. 

A big part of my approach to care is building a vibrant community. Since Mayflower Court and Orchard Gardens care homes opened in 2015, I have seen the community spirit at each home flourish. We have a variety of activity rooms and a full programme of events at both homes to keep our residents busy. Our philosophy is to bring the local community into the home, so that the residents don’t feel isolated from their surroundings. Just recently at Mayflower Court, for example, we hosted an afternoon tea party for the carers support group Carers in Southampton.

With regular reading groups and weekly lunch clubs with members of the local community, I find myself in my element at work, there’s always something going on and it really is a pleasure seeing residents meeting new people and trying out new things.

As for my “office”, I’m proud to say that both Mayflower Court and Orchard Gardens really do challenge people’s perceptions of what a care home looks like.

Mayflower Court is a modern care home with 72 en-suite rooms offering both comfort and luxury. There is a café, a craft room and a hair and beauty salon. The building is surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens with an outdoor seating area and raised bedding so that residents with limited mobility can also enjoy some light gardening. 

Orchard Gardens, which features 48 en-suite rooms, lies in the heart of the Bishopstoke Park retirement village. A wide range of facilities including a bistro, delicatessen, gym and swimming pool are available in the village centre, giving all residents the opportunity to participate in social activities and village community life. 

Every visitor is amazed by how beautiful the homes are. But I always add that the care is absolutely superb as well. All of our staff are incredibly caring and courteous towards residents and our carers are trained by Anchor’s dedicated dementia team to offer specialised dementia care.

In addition to this, the buildings themselves were constructed with future residents in mind: each feature of the residences has been designed to enhance the lives of the people who live here. Even though the grounds are stunning, the practicalities of the buildings and how they impact on our residents are what really matter day-to-day. Every detail has been thought about – from the height of a shower chair to the material of the hand rails.

It’s this personal touch that makes Anchor’s care homes such wonderful places to both live and work. Industry leaders clearly agree, as Mayflower Court was recently honoured as a finalist at the Pinders Healthcare Design Awards 2016, thanks to its pioneering care-focused design.

I am very proud to say that there are flourishing care communities at both Mayflower Court and Orchard Gardens, and I’m thrilled to be part of them.

Nikki Toomer is the Customer Relations Manager at Orchard Gardens and Mayflower Court care homes.

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