Able Care have kept celebrations low key as it has not been much of a year to celebrate when there is so much going on around us. However, we want to quietly mark our 40th year by sharing some wonderful memories told by clients and carers whilst reflecting on the current times.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported Able Care over the years
Hilary Betts, Director reflects on 40 years
In 1980 when I was 34 I started Able Domestic Employment Agency with a friend. We traded under a domestic heading finding housekeepers, gardeners, nannies and au pairs etc. One of my Clients at the time was Lady Elizabeth M and she contacted me and said that she was looking for a housekeeper/companion to live with her permanently. She was offering a home with a small wage which was fairly common at the time.
One day I received a call asking if I offered employment for 2 weeks at a time. I rang Lady Elizabeth and asked her if she would try this until I found her a permanent Housekeeper/companion. She agreed and it worked so well with two Housekeeper/companions alternating that Able Agency’s Continuous Housekeeping Scheme was born. That initial call and the first carer placed was Jackie Sherman (Jeeves) who worked for us up until a year ago.
After ten years of trading my friend and I formed two separate companies. Having worked very much at ground level I didn’t want to cover jobs all over England, I wanted to concentrate on the East and give the best possible service that I could.
In 1986 I had personal experience of the service and care that we provide. Several years after my mother died it became apparent that my father had started to become very confused and could not safely live on his own any longer. I knew the one thing he would not want was to go into Residential Care. He would want to stay in the home that he had built for his wife and daughters, continue to potter in the garden and be in the area that we had lived since the 1940’s. I found two housekeepers to alternate, working two weeks on and two weeks off.
My father was happy in his own surroundings and after a while in his confusion he was calling one of the housekeepers Edna, which was my mother’s name. He died peacefully at home which is where he would have wanted to be. For me it was the most satisfying thing that I could have done for my father. Now 40 years on the satisfaction and contentment I felt is what I still want for my Clients and their families today.
I am now 74 years old and although I no longer work from the office I am still involved through Matthew my son and Michelle my step daughter in law. I am very proud of Able Care, our office staff and carers, past and present and I know one day they will care for me.
Meet the Team
All of us are coming to terms with Coronavirus being amongst us all, the impact on or lives and the loss of loved ones. Client’s living in their own homes with the same carers is proving successful in keeping Covid at low risk for both Client and Carer along with following government guidelines and families support when visits are limited. Two clients & two carers recovered well from the virus but we would like to remember our Carer Jane who during taking time out from Able Care caught and sadly passed away from Covid19.
A word from our Manager, Michelle
It is you, our carers that make what we do so special and you have really shown how wonderful you are during these trying times. Over the past 6 months you have never failed to impress me with how you have coped with the challenges COVID-19 has thrown up.
I know many of you are tired and anxious about the current situation but you should all be immensely proud of what you have done and how you have conducted yourselves.
Congratulations on continuing to keep our Clients safe. I want to say a big thank you and well done to every single one of you.
100th, 101th and 103rd Birthday celebrations took place this year for three lovely ladies, both were able to celebrate by following guidelines of course with family members.
Miss C celebrated 100 years in her garden with a socially distanced band playing in the background whilst Mrs H celebrated 101 years at her lunch party with Champagne and family.
Our oldest Client celebrated her 103rd Birthday this year, so many memories and stories to tell…….
Sylvia Harrison was born in 1917 in Rome nee Sylvia Warden Baker, during WW1 – father was consul in Palermo. Aged 3 years she moved to Istanbul where education started with a governess and lived with her father and mother, then schooling in Istanbul aged 7 years at the British High School for Girls.
Came back to UK aged 10 years and went to Seaford Ladies College boarding school aged 10 years until aged 16 years and lived with Granny Baker (father’s mother) during school time in Bromley, Kent. Mother lived in London with Carol (stepfather) and father lived in Turkey. Sylvia was good at art so started working in design at the Oriental Carpet Manufacturing Company (family owned) in London.
At 17 years travelled on her own on a ship to India to be with mother and Carol (Carol had a job with the Chamber of Commerce in Calcutta). Sylvia was there for 18 months then returned to a boarding house in Bloomsbury and her old job.
Aged 21 years returned to India as mother wanted to marry her off. Sylvia went back to Bombay. Met husband, Philip Teviot Harrison at the Tollygunge Club in Calcutta. Philip was 39, Sylvia aged 21 and married shortly after in Bombay.
1939 war broke out, having had Philippa and John and lived in Simla and husband stationed in Burma. Didn’t see him for 3 years.
Family returned to the UK and bought 2 farms in Norfolk. Sylvia then had a second boy child. Husband died aged 55 and Sylvia went to Kent to nurse dying mother and on mother’s death moved back to north Norfolk coast, Blakeney and concentrated on her painting and chess and bridge and was guardian to two of her grandchildren, Philip and Deborah who she raised.
The grandchildren left home and Sylvia continued to live an independent life, painting, drawing and playing the guitar. As her sight started to fail Able Care were called in to support her to enable her to live in her own 2nd home in Blakeney.
“Sylvia is very independent, she is such an inspiration to all.” Tina (Carer).
“Able Care are caring and compassionate. They seem to have a sixth sense. A sense of respect for the whole family” Quote from Tom Harrison, son of Sylvia Harrison.
A few words from our Clients & Carers
I’ve been a Client of Able Care for almost twenty years now. With the carers help I have been able to keep my independence. We have, over the years, made many trips to stately homes and gardens, visited historic cities and have had many cups of coffee and cake in lots of our favourite cafes. Obviously pre Covid!!
It has been reassuring to know that if I have any problems or concerns the carers have always been able to help as have the office.
They all seem to meet my needs. Mr Barker, Watlington
Come in, sit down, relax, converse
I struggle to write something in verse
Aaah I know it’s there, 40 years of Able Care
Achievable best loving care
Reputation carries us through
The elderly have such stories to tell
Their memories serves them well
Now they deserve our loving care
So when they struggle we are always there
We ring the office to get our dates
After 20 years do I get mates rates
By Eadie Clark
Three Generations of Carers
Our mother Sylvia joined Able Care in the mid 1980s just after my sister Yvonne and myself. I think over the years between us we have worked all over the county and beyond. My daughter Emma joined Able Care later on, so at sometime three generations of mum’s family worked for the agency.
Our mother worked for Able Care until she was well into her 70’s, sometimes working for Clients older than herself. Sadly mum passed away in September 2020 at the age of 93 years.
Patricia Betts – Able Care Carer
Following a stroke in July 2010 I have been disabled and for the past 10 years Able Care have provided me with a series of live-in carers and, of these, the two very best have been Aida and Nico from the Philippines. At all times they have shown themselves to be very diligent, caring and good-humoured in looking after me and have been a bundle of laughs and fun. They are both very dedicated. An example of Aida’s dedication was particularly shown following my having a fall on getting out of her car in my yard as a result of which I sustained a bad cut to my left eyebrow. Not only did she clean me up before I was taken by ambulance to the A&E Department of the local hospital but she followed the ambulance the entire 16 miles and waited there with me (throughout the night) until I was discharged the next morning and then drove me home. She then carried on with her work at my home once we had returned. My relationship with both these carers has been enhanced by the fact that we have been able to communicate in Spanish, their native language, also French, German and Italian and occasionally a spattering of Russian, Japanese and Portuguese! I feel eternally grateful to them for what they have been able to do for me.
Mr Jarvis, Tibenham
Oh Eadie, it could only happen to you……
I went to Mundesley – They had visitors on a Sunday, I made a special roast with all the trimmings. Whilst carving the roast I cut my finger, I had to go next door to geta plaster and when I came back Frank’s two dogs were eating the roast. So, change of plan, Sunday dinner was corned beef!
Frank could not see out of the window from his wheelchair, I saw a lovely frog in the garden and brought it in to let him see it, it jumped onto his chest. I cannot repeat what he called me!!!!
I used to make my own Lentil soup, one day Frank’s visitors commented on how lovely it tasted and mentioned that she knew those who were involved in the Covent Garden soups company. Several weeks later I was contacted by Covent Garden Soups and I was asked if I would go to London to make my soup for them to try. I did not go because of my commitment to Frank but who knows, today I could be lavishing on the royalties of my Lentil Soup.
Then I went to a gentleman at Costessey who I was told was blind. Getting him up every morning for several days he would hold onto what he thought was my shoulder when in fact it was my breast! One morning after I had assisted him downstairs, he suddenly said “is that a needle lying on the carpet”, clearly this gentleman was not blind at all!!
I cared for lovely Ethel, 16 years and we never had a crossed word. She would not go to bed unless her black cat called Humbug was at the bottom of her bed. If humbug would not come in, I would put out a black cardigan at the bottom of her bed, she would talk away quite happily thinking it was Humbug.
One day I was having a cigarette in the garden in my night clothes and suddenly two armed policemen appeared at the gate and a helicopter above me, there had been an incident at the nearby Solicitors, clearly they thought I was the perpetrator. By Eadie Clark – Retired Able Care Carer
Due to Coronavirus restrictions we were unable to hold our usual annual Coffee Morning to fundraise for MacMillan Cancer Charity.
In previous years we have raised over £400 coming together with our carers to pin the tail on the donkey, play bingo and eat cake!
Let’s hope we can resume in 2021.
A Final Word
As we said at the beginning, this year has been tough not only on us as an Agency but for the elderly and their families, those with all types of vulnerabilities, mental health, rich or poor. Let us all take a moment to remember those who have passed and all come together in hoping and praying that we are on the cusp of a new year full of hope, positivity and kindness.