An 87-year-old woman is spearheading a national campaign to challenge the way we look at care homes.
Doreen Balley, from Cardiff, is the star of a short film from Age Cymru’s My Home Life Cymru programme.
‘Garden and Scrabble’ is part of the charity’s ‘The Big Care Home Conversation’ campaign.
In it, Doreen describes how the loss of her husband led to mental health problems and a suicide attempt before she rediscovered her happiness in a care home.
“I was widowed in 1989 and lived in a bungalow alone for three and a half years.
“I was three months in hospital – a psychiatric hospital, and I wasn’t allowed to go home because I had three nervous breakdowns and I tried taking my life.
“Anyway I came to Penylan Retirement Hotel, and I liked it very much, so I moved in on September 27 1992.”
Moving into the care home has renewed Doreen’s lust for life, as she explains:
“First thing in the morning if I get a smile – and I always do - a smile from my carer - it makes my day.
“If I see they are a little bit short of staff, I’ll often go out and wipe the dishes for them, you know?
"I’ll help them with all that’s in my power because I get on very, very well with them.”
‘Garden and Scrabble’ is being premiered at the launch of the Big Care Home Conversation at the National Assembly for Wales on 15 May.
The Big Care Home Conversation is a month-long campaign to increase the public’s understanding of life in care homes across Wales, running until 8 June.
John Moore, of the My Home Life Cymru programme says:
“We’re very, very grateful to Doreen for sharing her story with us and helping us to launch the Big Care Home Conversation in Wales.
“ ‘Garden and Scrabble, is a very moving account of Doreen’s personal tragedy, her health problems and how she found a new lease of life in a care home.
“We’re hoping the film will dispel some of the myths that surround care homes and show the public the realities of living in care homes, and that they can be a positive option.”
You can see ‘Garden and Scrabble’ on YouTube: http://youtu.be/uVsuXMQAUSo