Epping Forest MP, Eleanor Laing, caught up with some old friends during a special visit to Woodland Grove care home in Loughton.
The deputy speaker for the House of Commons met familiar faces among the residents, staff and visitors at the 72-bed home on Rectory Lane. Mrs Laing made the visit on Friday as part of the home’s celebration of Care Home Open Day, a UK-wide initiative when care homes open their doors to local communities.
Mrs Laing planned to stay for just half an hour but stayed for more than two, and enjoyed entertainment from local singer, Dave Pearce, and chatted with friends, comparing hairstyles and reminiscing about changes in fashion over the years.
Among them was Joy Wainright, 97, a former district councillor for Theydon Bois and neighbour of Mrs Laing for many years.
“It’s been so nice to see her again,” she said. “We know each other well and I’m delighted that she came to visit my new home.”
Doreen (known as Dreen) Cairns got to know Mrs Laing through events in her constituency.
“I haven’t seen her in such a long time, I was really looking forward to her coming,” she said “We love living here and it’s good for her to see how well cared for we are.”
Mrs Laing was shown round by Harnoop Atkar, managing director of Oakland Primecare which owns Woodland Grove, and general manager Jo Coughlan.
Mrs Laing said: “I was surprised to see so many people I knew. Woodland Grove’s dedicated, committed and caring staff provide wonderful services to the residents and I was most impressed by the whole operation.
Mrs Laing added: “I was delighted to hear that it provides well over 100 jobs in Loughton and actively works with Epping Forest College and Davenant Foundation School students.”
General manager, Jo Coughlan, said: “Care Home Open Day is a great opportunity to change perceptions of the care sector. People sometimes think that moving into a home means you’ll be cut off from friends and community but that’s not the case.
“Not only are homes beginning to be seen as somewhere desirable to live in your later years, but they are also great places to work.
“We offer young people work experience opportunities and will soon be offering apprenticeships.
“At Woodland Grove there is scope for progression, job satisfaction and somewhere you can develop a career.”