A look behind-the-scenes at
The Huntington & Langham Estate during lockdown

You've seen the footage of people in PPE, staff at full-stretch, the care industry at breaking point, but there's also been a gentler side to life in a care home during lockdown. Of course, suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 have called for an all-hands-on-deck approach with surgical levels of infection control, but it's certainly not the whole story.

For us, lockdown has meant no appointments to take people to, no events to organise and attend, and it has made a big difference to the feel of our homes. As an example, one of the responsibilities of Bess, a Team Leader in Huntington House, would be to make sure people were ready for the hairdresser (and any other appointments), now she is the hairdresser (she actually happens to be a qualified hairdresser she's one of those annoying people who is brilliant at everything). The point being that our staff have been able to focus on 'being' rather than 'doing'. The workload hasn't necessarily reduced, but it has shifted.

Instead of trying to keep everyone busy all of the time, for fear they might be bored or lonely (two of the biggest focuses on our industry in recent years), care homes across the country are modelling the new trend for slow living. The slower pace of life is actually more akin to how the generation we are caring for used to live, and when our nation as a whole was arguably at its happiest. Residents and staff alike are spending time on the things that are most important to them sitting in the garden, listening to music and dancing, staying in touch with family and friends. The latter of course providing some logistical challenges, but not without plenty of success.

Grandchildren, instead of sitting uncomfortably in the corner of a care home lounge, are putting on impromptu plays via FaceTime, or giving virtual tours of their bedroom or the walk they've been doing every day; moments and places that our residents may never have seen otherwise. The familiarity that the younger generation have with technology has enabled residents to have genuine engagement with their families that wouldn't necessarily happen naturally in a care home. The effectiveness of these virtual visits has been one of lockdown's biggest surprises. FaceTime will never replace a real hug, but it has been an amazing addition to the support we're able to provide, not just for the resident, but for whole families.

There have been so many lessons learnt from lockdown, but perhaps none so poignant as the importance of family. Leading dementia charities recently called for relatives of care home residents to be given key-worker status, and I couldn't agree more. Our ethos has always encouraged family involvement, and many relatives have been part of day-to-day life on the estate for years, from helping to plant out the gardens to running poetry reading groups, but there is always more we can do - once it's safe to do so, it'll be time to up the ante!

By Charlie Hoare (Managing Director of The Huntington & Langham Estate)

Huntington & Langham Estate, Hindhead (HLE)

Huntington and Langham Estate HindheadFor many years, Grayshott Concerts has also had the support of one of the most successful Nursing Homes in the region Huntington & Langham Estate in Hindhead. Also a family run establishment, their activities are handled personally by the whole family which has worked tirelessly to provide personal nursing and dementia care of an exceptionally high standard to many in our community.

Not only have Huntington supported our events, they have also sponsored our interval drinks for some years, enabling us to generate additional funds for St Luke's Church.

The family has recently developed an entirely new and specialised home for Dementia patients, Langham Court, alongside the original Huntington House. This new development (HLE) takes the business in a new and exciting direction and, not unreasonably, has moved the focus of their sponsorship to new causes. Huntington remain as major sponsors of our 'Healer' and Young Musicians Projects plus our latest world-premiere event, Karl Jenkins 'Miserere' featuring a wealth of top choral and orchestral artists in St Luke's in November 2019.

We are privileged to have their support for special events from time to time, both financially and with their constant inspiration and enthusiasm. It is a particular pleasure for us to be engaged in our latest project which regularly brings principal performers from London Mozart Players to perform recitals at HLE for the enjoyment of their residents.

Thank you, Geoffrey, Marilyn, Sarah Chapman and Charlie Hoare for all you do, supporting us for so long.