Anna Young – Senior House Manager, Tunbridge Wells
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, I live in Tunbridge Wells and have been involved with Abbeyfield for over 20 years! I’ve been a full-time House Manager at Cadogan Gardens for about 6 years.
I practice the martial art Choi Kwang Do with my young son, which is fun to learn together. He laughs and takes pride in being a higher belt than me! I also have two dogs, Jack the Jack Russell and Albert a Yorkshire terrier.
2. How long have you worked for Abbeyfield South Downs?
A long time – since 1999! My Mum actually worked as a live-in Housekeeper at Abbeyfield Tunbridge Wells when I was growing up. I used to volunteer or work for extra money in the holidays – helping with events, doing the shopping (before online shopping!), or staying as an overnight relief, as at that time it was a live-in role.
The previous Tunbridge Wells Society merged to become part of Abbeyfield South Downs in 2015. I was working as a General Assistant, and then became Senior House Manager about 4 years ago.
3. What changes have you seen in that time?
Naturally, I’ve seen lots of change and modernisation, with more training, and improved IT for example. We’re future-proofing, so we can ensure a high level of consistent support for residents.
In previous times there were many rules, and we’ve worked closely to ensure that the house is more relaxed (apart from the necessary Covid rules of course). I’m all for encouraging and empowering residents to maintain their independence – this is our resident’s home after all.
For example, if someone offers to wash up because they would like to keep busy and help out, that’s okay. If someone would like to make the morning tea, because they want to, that’s okay too. It’s their house, and I respect that I’m working in their home.
A while back we needed to repaint the front door – so residents had a vote and chose the colour. It’s really important that residents have a voice in things that affect them.
4. What does your role as Senior House Manager involve?
I oversee the running of the house, making sure everything runs smoothly! I look after things so that residents and staff are safe and happy.
It’s really varied; I could be dealing with maintenance, families, gardening, talking to social services – even taking down someone’s net curtains for a wash!
5. Can you talk us through a typical day in the house?
You can never plan a day – you never know what’s coming! Today for example;
I’m creating staff rotas, talking to you, checking the meter readings, going to the bank and post office, drawing up some New Tenant Agreements for residents we’ve got moving in.
We’re having some work done to convert two small rooms into one large room, so then I’ll check on the progress; arrange a carpet fitter, and pop to get some paint.
Oh – and checking when the chiropodist is coming in again!
Little things can make a big difference – we try to really listen, which is appreciated. When people tell you that they’re much happier now, it’s so rewarding.Anna Young, Senior House Manager – Tunbridge Wells
6. What do you enjoy most about the role?
Most of all I love making a difference to people.
Little things can make a big difference. Some of the residents were missing a cooked breakfast, so now we make sure that we have a regular cooked breakfast to look forward to. One lady likes her towels folded in a certain way, so we listen and do that. One resident loves certain grapes, so we made sure we bought that variety on the next shop. We try to really listen, which is appreciated.
When people tell you that they’re much happier now, it’s so rewarding. One resident said that since they moved in, they have more of a life now than they did in the previous 11 years.
7. Do you have any funny stories to share?
Yes, there’s a classic we always remember! I was creating a presentation for a meeting and needed to include some images of life in the house. We were in the dining room and a resident was helping to lay the cutlery and place settings.
I asked, “Can I just take a picture of you laying the table?” Next thing, she’s laying on the table, ready for her picture! We couldn’t even take the picture as we were all too busy laughing!
8. What are the biggest challenges?
Something that can be challenging is helping people to get the right support when they move on from our house. For example, there’s much more awareness about mental health now. If people don’t have their own support network, we work hard to ensure that they can access the resources and help that they need.
9. What do you like most about Autumn now the weather is changing?
I like the events in Autumn, the colours, getting cosy indoors and eating comfort food like stews. We do love a theme in the house too! Tracey recently made a lovely flower display from carved pumpkins. The team are so creative, from food to floristry they’re great at getting involved. Last year they made a fabulous display around the front door for Christmas. And we piped the haggis in for Burns Night! I’m sure we’ll make the most of the Autumn events.
Thinking of moving?
We are now 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 Abbeyfield House in Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Read more about Moving in during the pandemic