Why we love our job – Avril Vallance and Doreen Hefferin

Our job is to run Abbeyfield House, which is supported sheltered
accommodation, and oversee the health and happiness of residents by
making sure they are well fed, and cared for, writes Avril

Our 10 residents have their own bedsitting room and bathroom and
facilities to make breakfast and snacks. We provide two home-cooked
meals a day in the dining room.

We liaise with residents’ families about health and other issues,
will collect prescriptions, sit and chat, offer comfort and support
and so on. We don’t provide personal care, as Abbeyfield House is
not a care home but we will help organise care staff to come in if
our frailer residents need help with bathing, dressing and so

Residents tend to be in their late eighties when they join us, with
many in their nineties and older. Freed from the burden of cooking
and running a house, they often lead active lives.

Doreen came into the job by accident as a cleaner, then a few
months later was asked to be the deputy housekeeper because she had
experience of cooking. That was 12 years ago.

I arrived three years later and Doreen and I hit it off straight
away and as well as being colleagues became good friends.

The residents are lovely people. Overall, everyone gets on well and
there is lots of laughter and talk. But it can be difficult at
times, as every resident has a unique background and ideas, but
with diplomacy something can be sorted out.

Doreen and I are rarely called out during the night. Sometimes a
resident has to move to another home for extra care or someone
passes away, a time of great sadness for us.

We get training from seminars and courses throughout the year on
care and safety for the house and we also have an Abbeyfield
volunteers committee to help.

To do our job you need patience, diplomacy, humour and love.

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