She may have turned 70 earlier this year, but Christine Anstey is showing no signs of slowing down, providing a shining example of how a positive approach can lead to a happier life.
Christine, who has a moderate learning disability, hearing impairment and a severe spinal condition, lives at Tolworth Park Road in Surbiton, a residential service run by the Regard Group, the UK’s fourth largest provider of residential and supported living care for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs.
She moved to Tolworth, which provides 24-hour care for up to six adults, in 2002 having previously lived at St Ebba’s Hospital in Epsom.
The move from an institutional setting – where Christine had spent much of her adult life – to a shared bungalow, was something she initially found challenging.
Tolworth’s deputy manager, Louise Butler, who has known her for 13 years, said: “Christine was previously very distrusting with the environment she lived in, but since she joined us she has built a mutually positive and trusting relationship with our team which has transformed her life.”
“Despite facing many difficulties and ongoing challenges, it’s the positive, happy and carefree way Christine interacts with others that really makes her stand out. She has a fantastic sense of humour and easily interacts with individuals at all levels, including all her peers in the house who find her an inspiring person to be with.
A talented keyboard player, Christine loves making music and is proud to display her skills at any opportunity. She has a big collection of CDs, mainly classical, and is a great fan of Jools Holland, who she has seen in concert at Hampton Court Palace on several occasions.
Louise Butler said: “Christine is a keen reader, a very good speller, and has a fantastic memory, with the ability to readily recall past events that are of importance to her. She also has a very inquisitive mind, buying newspapers and magazines four times a week.
“She loves cars, especially Volkswagens, and can tell you makes and models of different cars, as well as demonstrating a keen knowledge of landmarks and places of interest, such as Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower.
Featuring prominently among the regular activities Christine chooses for herself are her twice-weekly visits to a day centre in Surbiton where she has made a number of firm friendships. She also enjoys going out for lunch and evening meals with her fellow housemates and support staff.
The staff team at Tolworth Park Road works with adults over 40 who have complex needs and high levels of vulnerability, supporting and enabling them to become more independent in their everyday life. They work with the people they support to enable them achieve their own goals in a way that is meaningful for each individual.