On the 20th May we visited the Kendal Community at Oberlin. Founded by Quakers, and still running on Quaker principles, this Community of Elders is vibrant. Most of the activities and groups/clubs are run by the residents themselves (through Committees) . The independent living residents accompany those less able to appointments off campus. Physios, Drs, even the Bank, have offices on site. In the dementia house (not a UNIT, it is run as a house) the residents get up, have meals etc as they please. There is a communal kitchen where they can make toast etc. The only rule is that they must all sit down together for evening meal. If they go out with family or friends, they are asked to be back for dinner. The staff ensure that residents of the house are taken to activities. In the communal lounge residents are free to socialise. There is also an outside courtyard accessible to all residents all the time.
As with the other communities I have visited, the calm atmosphere is everywhere. Muted colours, but with contrasting bathroom walls , signposting and visual cues in the kitchen, all these factors combine to make living in the house as easy as possible for the residents – keeping them independent for as long as possible. The entrance even looks like a front door, and you MUST knock before entering – once someone lets you in. Even staff follow this rule as far as possible (although they do have access codes) The residents enjoy their weekly cookery class with the children from the onsite nursery. Other residents paint, quilt, do woodwork or ceramics and their work is displayed in exhibitions, which are organised by another group of residents. The way all the residents take charge of their community, and work so cohesively together puts our Govt to shame!