I’ve been living here for sixteen years. Five years in this particular flat.

When I lived in the other flat downstairs there was a bit of trouble… and  I couldn’t stand it any longer. So, I put in for – and  managed to get – this flat. Which is fine, as I now get an extra bedroom for anyone who wants to come and stay.

I’ve enjoyed living here – because I keep busy.

As you can see I have a nice flat and I am very well settled.

It’s very good because it has a dining area.  The other flat was just one room and bathroom. Everything was perfectly adequate for one person. But this is a 2-person flat. 

 display of spoons in flat

I like my things. 

You know I have 208 spoons!

In 1967 I started with the ‘Boxer Spoon’- a very old Chinese spoon.

I belong to a ‘Spoon Club’ and the chap made these. He had a round coffee table and had taken the top off it, he lined it with display spoons and put glass on it.

I didn’t have as many spoons as him but if you’re not careful you can collect an awful lot.

My daughter and I have this thing – no ornaments.

elderly support, family and memories  in sheltered accommodation flat

This is my family…  they are very close to me.

One of the things that we all appreciate about living here is the fact that it is safe.

We have the buzzer.. and every room has a cord.  I usually wear an alarm around my neck. We also have smoke alarms.

It’s one of those places that is really safe.

We have a new tenant who lived in a lovely bungalow locally, but she was tormented by children and bad boys. So now she’s in here and loves it. It’s because she feels safe.

She’s not going to have someone rapping on her back door trying to get in.

elderly person's  room in flat

I am 92 and find it hard getting out of bed some mornings –  but I have a rail.

Getting in and out – I am a bit slow.

I sit on the edge of the bed – because if I get up too quickly I would fall. So I allow for all that. 

As you can see the bathroom is just along the way…and the kitchen. It takes me a wee while to get going. I have my leisurely breakfast and then  the day goes on.

I don’t really use the rolator in the house.  Occupation Therapy supplied me with a  2 wheel and a 4 wheel rotator that I can sit on – it’s all free. To pay for things like that … you wouldn’t just have them.

Black and white photo of flat in sheltered accommodation

Everything in the flat belongs to the tenant and so the tenant is responsible for it. You have to have your own insurance for the flat.

My son was very generous. I got new curtains and new bed linen…and rugs a few things like that. And a new bed, because I had more space. 

I was very happy in the other flat. But as things go this one has the advantage because I’m not looking out now on the cars and grounds at the front.

Originally it was stated to be an environment where you have to be able to look after yourself. Back then we had no carers. Now, we have a lot of carers because we have all grown old.

I have a carer who comes in to help me shower twice a week. Not to do anything else. They’re very good, very helpful.

It wasn’t easy, you know, having someone come in.

Well, anyway you get used to it….

flat for sheltered living

She has a Breakfast Club and Coffee Morning and we have lunch and now Afternoon  Tea with proper cups and saucers. She is doing her best. 

Most of the people living here are in their 80’s. There are just a few younger people.

On the whole,  I suppose, people would say that after 16  years this place could do with new carpets in the hall.. or the lights could be seen to – or we could do with a new cooker.

Flat of elderly person  - chair with cushion

I try to be independent – for my daughter’s sake.

We pay a service charge – that’s a service charge on top of your rent.

It means if the radiators go they send in their engineers. It covers the windows, the garden, the interiors, the domestics and also part of the CSO’s wages.

tidy kitchen sheltered accommodation

I am on the committee representing this place on a forum where the tenants can air their grievances. That keeps me going.

I was also in the Flower Club and NIGFAS – NI Flower Group of Flower Arranging Societies…. for maybe 50 years. Been there, done that.

I was always interested in flower arranging… but used to do it a lot more.

Once a fortnight  I go out with my friends for coffee – with the WI.  They disbanded but tend to meet up for coffee and chat.

I was asked to join the ‘Tuesday Club’ attached to St.  Steven’s church –   they are terrific for visiting old houses. People are very good about helping me on and off the coach and I take my rolator with me. The last homes we went to were The ArgroryMountstewart,

In December we are off to Ballymena for a surprise Christmas lunch. All that keeps me in contact with other people.

view from hall of flat in sheltered accommodation

Some people find living here isolating or lonely…..

The lovely man next door, he sometimes gets frustrated as there’s nothing really here for men.

Women are different.  They will come in and have a cup of coffee.  It could  be….. It can be lonely for people, especially if they can’t get out and about.

We have a Common Room, where we used to meet up and have a chat, but some people just want to stay in their flats.  

But there it is… I’m happy here.

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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