‘It’s a big thing to put the person you love most into someone else’s care!’ The real challenge for any residential home is to honour that sentiment – and that is precisely what Glyn Nest, the Baptist Union of Wales’s residential home, has managed to do in receiving a glowing report from the Care Inspectorate for Wales this year.
This unique residential home with 28 occupants is nestled on a wooded slope on the edge of the market town of Newcastle Emlyn. But while Glyn Nest is a Baptist home, with the Sisters’ Movement among others instrumental in establishing and sustaining it, it is not just a home for Baptists. ‘We follow the principle of the good Samaritan here – welcoming everyone without distinction, and trying to give them the best Christian care.’ That’s what the inspectorate has acknowledged in its recent report, which praises the home’s ‘welcoming’ and ‘accommodating’ environment, noting that ‘individual needs… matter’ to the ‘dedicated’ staff of the home. So what lies behind this – especially in an age when so much bad news comes out of residential homes?
‘Oh, I think there are a number of noteworthy things,’ said Jane, the Home’s manager who has worked there since the mid-80s. ‘I often think a key factor is the ability to spend a day in one of the residents’ shoes to get a real understanding. Respecting each person properly is extremely important to us, and that means that individuals’ wider families are an important part of the home – when you take in a person, you take in the family too, in a metaphorical sense!’ This is reflected in the messages of thanks that line the office from residents’ families, such as this from October 2022 – ‘a small word of heartfelt thanks for caring for Dad in a gentle, kind and careful manner…. we consider you all friends’.
And that intimacy is evident, not only when talking to the Care Home staff but also the (voluntary) directors who are so dedicated to the place. ‘I remember coming across Charlie, now deceased, sweeping leaves one October day outside the Home’ said Rev Irfon Roberts, one of those directors. ‘Why was he doing that, I asked him? “Well, this is my home now!” he said, and he’d buy flowers from the garden centre, or catch the bus to Glangwili hospital in Carmarthen to fetch a prescription for another of the occupants.’ Then there was Frida, who would organise a calendar events for all the other residents, or Arwel, a former minister who would take services to help out in the chapel nearby. ‘You get very attached to them – real characters!’
Although each day is different, a relaxed community rhythm characterises the Home’s life. After switching over from night staff to day staff and arranging the morning medication, breakfast time rolls along and with it a choice for residents to take it in bed or downstairs with others’ company. Then a hot lunch of homecooked local produce (chicken casserole, Sunday lunch, gammon in parsley sauce etc.) and a chance for a nap, or afternoon activities; everything from hairdressing and card-making to crafts and pet therapy.
Then each month there is a communion service organized by the Home committee, and other services conducted by the Chaplain, Rev. Sian-Elin Thomas. ‘It’s a privilege to be in a relationship with people like this, and to be a listening ear for the! I’m in and out of the Home all the time, but the services are special because one thing that is absolutely certain is that the residents of Glyn Nest love to sing! And several people have said over the years how much they love to preach here too – they form a fab congregation’
So what explained the unique atmosphere of the place, when maintaining that is so challenging in our day? In Jane’s view, there was a combination of things at play, ‘and maybe one of those is that we try to espouse here a sort of homely Welsh welcome.’ And, Irfon notes, that while not all staff are Christian, they all appreciate the importance of the person-centered ethos that emerges from the foundations of the Home’s faith. ‘There is no place in the Bible at all or any justification for what we call ageism‘, he said, ‘Rather, God promises to be with us in our old age, to sustain and protect us. That is what we seek to emulate’
For more information about Glyn Nest Home, check out Glyn Nest | Care Home
Is there someone in your church or family considering care options for the future? Please do not hesitate to contact the Home for an informal chat by calling 01239 710950.