Peta Lambird – Senior House Manager, Alfriston & Hove
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in Halland, which is a 50 mile round trip from Brighton & Hove and a 25 mile round trip from Alfriston. I’ve worked for Abbeyfield for 14 years in about 12 different houses.
I’m a new grandmother to 11 week old Molly, who I’m looking forward to visiting next week as my daughter lives in the North.
I have a thing for the sky – in the past I’ve done a skydive and I’ve also just completed a wing walk!
At our last Abbeyfield get-together, I won an award for being the most accident-prone member of staff – and I have a certificate to prove it!
2. How long have you worked for Abbeyfield South Downs?
I’ve worked for Abbeyfield for about 14 years across lots of houses. I started off managing an independent Abbeyfield in Rotherfield, I was there for 3 years. Then I did regular relief work at Holdenhurst in Heathfield, and then contacted the Brighton & Hove Society. I think I did one shift in Hove, and they offered me a job as a Relief Housekeeper!
So, I took that on and made a career going around wherever the houses needed help. Over the years I’ve worked at both houses in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Forest Row – where haven’t I worked?! And they’re all different. Although it’s the same Abbeyfield principle they do vary.
3. What changes have you seen in that time?
For me the biggest change is in the Hove house. They used to have live-in housekeepers, and although the houses are joined, they were very much separate – like never the Twain shall meet. Things were done in certain ways on certain days.
When Abbeyfield South Downs was formed, the decision was made to join the houses – the idea was to enable the houses to connect and come together. As well as management changes, physically knocking the houses together would make a big difference. And that’s when I took over.
People don’t always like change, but it was a gradual thing, and it really has worked. All the rules have gone. It’s a joy to come here; the house is always full of laughter and chatter. Now, there’s no ‘you can’t do that’ and if we don’t do something, why don’t we do it? Let’s fix it so that we can do it. There are no problems, only solutions!
Hove is beautiful; it’s modern, light and vibrant. We’re heading for the future. There’s chitchat in the garden, people spend time out of their rooms. That could be doing jigsaw puzzle or having a glass of wine with a neighbour in front of the telly – it’s homely.
4. What does your role as Senior House Manager involve?
My role on paper is to oversee the Alfriston and Hove houses, managing the staff and overseeing the running of the house, sorting out problems. But it’s difficult to really describe it – everybody’s role is important to the running of the house. It’s very much a team. And all the teams in all the house care about their residents over and above anything else.
You can’t put a label on what we do – it’s an unusual role. You’ve got to be everything.
You’ve got to be a psychiatrist, confidante, cook, nurse… you need compassion and dedication. For me it’s never felt like going to work – it’s more like I’m going to visit my grandparents. It’s never a chore.
In theory, I spend two days a week in Alfriston and three days a week in Hove. But in reality, I go where I’m needed, where there are the most things that need my attention. Every day is different – there’s no typical day because you’re dealing with such a diverse group of people.
I love to see people flourish. Some tenants have lived lonely lives but watching them thrive, to enjoy life is very rewarding.
Some days you think, I made a positive difference to someone’s life today. There are not many jobs that you can say that about.Peta Lambird, Senior House Manager – Alfriston & Hove
5. What are the biggest challenges?
Well of course the last year has been difficult. We’ve been incredibly successful in keeping all of our tenants across all of our houses safe. Everybody’s been very respectful of the Government rules to keep each other safe.
Getting maintenance people can be a challenge. You’re always chasing up somebody.
Also, recruiting the right people can be hard. Even in a big city like Brighton & Hove, it can be difficult to find people who really understand what we’re about. They need passion and compassion; it’s not a regular 9 to 5. It takes special people.
6. What do you enjoy most about the role?
That residents really embrace the things we do, as we listen to their feedback. They are always consulted; we always ask for their opinions. For example, if we don’t know what to have for lunch, we’ll go and pick 5 or 7 people at random and ask what they’d like. Then put their ideas on the menu. Everybody has a say, what they want and what they like. Tenants are involved in everything that we do here.
We recently got an Amazon Alexa for the house for a Memories Through Music initiative. I wasn’t quite sure if people would use it, but now some of the residents’ dance to rock’n’roll in the afternoon! There’s always music playing.
7. What are you most proud of?
I love to see people flourish. Some tenants have lived lonely, isolated lives. They may be malnourished or nervous to begin, but watching them thrive, to enjoy life, is very rewarding.
Of course, some days you can’t wait to get home! But other days you think ‘today has been a good day’, everything’s shining, and today I’ve made a difference. I made a positive difference to someone’s life today. There are not many jobs that you can say that about.
8. How do you relax?
On the sofa with a bottle of wine!
I’ve also recently done a Wing Walk for fun… I always wanted to do it; I have a thing about the sky! First, I wanted to do a skydive. My daughter bought that as a Christmas and birthday present, so I did the skydive about 18 months ago. Then one day my sister said, ‘Do you want to do a wing walk?!’ Well yes!
The wing walk is where you sit on a little red seat, strapped around your middle to the top of a fixed wing aircraft. Your arms and legs are free, and you go up for about 10 minutes or so facing 110mph winds. You just hang out in the sky – literally!
I wasn’t nervous. I did it with my sister who is also an adventure buff – it runs in the family. We’ve raised over £1,300 for Great Ormond Street Hospital too.
You can donate to Peta’s Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/peta-lambird
9. What’s next for your houses?
Abbeyfield Week begins 5th June – this year the theme is Creating Conversations.
At Hove, we’re going to do a spring roll and sushi making competition and then serve it as a buffet lunch, have a few drinks, and enjoy memories through music in the afternoon. We’ll put some songs on Alexa that promote happy thoughts, connection and conversations.
Alfriston are running their famous Strawberry Tea. It’s an afternoon tea event and we look forward to it every year, with amazing scones, cakes, tea and chat!
Thinking of moving?
We are open to new residents!
Are you thinking about making a move into one of our houses? Our friendly team are on hand to support you every step of the way.
We currently have places at in our Alfriston, Hove and Tunbridge Wells houses.
Talk to our house teams to find out more >> https://abbsd.co.uk/our-houses/