St Christopher’s Church of England War Memorial Care Home has often been called one of Northampton’s best kept secrets! Set in four acres of beautifully kept grounds, the Home is at the heart of the town, right next to Abington Park. The spacious gardens at St Christopher’s are open and accessible to residents and their families. Under normal circumstances, visitors are made very welcome, and parking is plentiful and free.
St Christopher’s itself has 52 rooms, and there are 34 flats and bungalows in the grounds for those people who are able to maintain Independent Living. All of St Christopher’s rooms are bright and clean, and residents are encouraged to see them as a ‘home from home’.
The last year has been a very challenging time for all Care Homes, and St Christopher’s has been no exception to this. It has been incredibly difficult for residents not to be able to see their families and especially not to have a hug from loved ones. In the first lockdown, a marquee in the garden with microphones each end, meant that residents and families could speak to each other without getting too close. Later in the year, the Home purchased some very large screens, almost like giant i-pads and this meant that families have been able to keep in touch in a different way.
Just as it has been for everyone, the organisation in the Home has needed to change and adapt to differing circumstances. Services in the Chapel have moved on-line, and Zoom and Facetime have become second nature to almost everyone.
Under normal circumstances a printed monthly diary shows a wide range of varied activities with something to suit everyone. The St Christopher’s minibus provides many opportunities to go shopping or to the library, and there are trips out to places of interest. Prayers and services are held regularly in the Chapel, and the local Church of St Peter & St Paul is nearby. The Rector and other clergy visit the Home and take services. St Christopher’s has links with the local Primary School and the children visit regularly, giving great pleasure to both age groups. Of course, for the past year none of this has been able to take place.
The biggest challenge of all has been to keep the virus out of the Home. Until very recently this was successful, but the New Year saw a number of residents testing positive, even though they had been fortunate enough to have their first vaccine two weeks earlier. Many residents were poorly and recovered; sadly several people from the St Christopher’s family died. Our thoughts and prayers go to their families and loved ones.
Staff continue to be amazed at the fortitude and stoicism shown by the residents. In spite of the very worrying times, there have been many ‘light in the darkness’ moments. Celebrating a 101st birthday in lockdown was a day to remember, with the residents family getting together to sing Happy Birthday on Zoom. Staff have been sent many, many letters from family members, thanking them for their love and care and for watching over their loved ones when they themselves couldn’t be there for them. Some residents report that whilst isolation has been a challenge there have been many bonuses, and the calmness and quiet has allowed them to feel closer to God, almost as if they were staying at a retreat.
As we come towards the end of the third Lockdown, getting together with family for the first time in a year is almost in sight. Everyone is looking forward to spending the summer outside, enjoying the beautiful gardens, and being grateful to God for each new day.
There have been many highs and lows throughout the last year but the high points have been so special and despite the awful circumstances of isolation from loved ones it is something that has brought the homes residents and staff closer together there is greater sense of appreciation for one and all and the relatives have been so thoroughly supportive as we’ve walked this path I cannot honestly thank them enough for being so trusting and supportive
We are truly blessed to have one another inside the home and the wider network of love surrounding us. Seeing residents smile has been the light in the darkness, seeing so many so poorly and bounce back stronger than before. Also, this is a time our lives we will never forget but will also never forget the absent family members lost along the way.
St Christopher’s Care Home St Christopher’s Church of England War Memorial Home Abington Park Crescent, Northampton NN3 3AD