Since May 2016, Srs Sheelah Clarke and Win Crowther have been living in “The Maples”, an assisted living retirement complex in Peterborough, England. They share with us what it has meant for them as sisters to experience this new way of “living in community” with lay people.
Why should two sisters move into a retirement complex?
In fact an innovative and audacious choice lies behind the move. As Sheelah explains, At the moment I am here mainly to see if this way of living could be the future for those of us who need some assistance as we age and which present day communities are no longer able to provide.” At the same time, “Part of my being here is to mix with and try to be of some comfort and support to others”.
is one of 72 retirement complexes owned by the Protestant MHA (Methodist Homes) in the U.K. (http://www.mha.org.uk/), but open to all irrespective of their beliefs. Their mission is “to improve the quality of life for older people, inspired by Christian concern”, a mission as relevant now as it was in 1943 when the association was founded.
Sheelah and Win have each a studio apartment along with access to a flexible range of support and services including meals and housekeeping, care packages and a wide range of activities. Both of the sisters appreciate all that is on offer but also value the fact they can continue to be independent and active :
“We feel 100% accepted. The staff are very caring and friendly and the province and family know that we are safe and secure. I would emphasize especially the concern everyone has for everyone, it is outstanding!” (Win)
“Like the other residents I am independent, receive visitors and, in my case, am still able to spend time as a volunteer chaplain … I can visit my own local religious community too.” (Sheelah)
“Each person is of worth and every moment precious …”
At the same MHA is special in that it places a high value on the spiritual as well as the physical well-being of the elderly. They believe that every person needs a sense of meaning and purpose right to the end of life, a vocation shared by Sheelah and Win.
“My move took me by surprise but I am very happy to be here. I feel already that the Maples is an extension of my religious family and mission, both of which I am a part of and which I have not left. It is our home now and the residents are our community.” (Sheelah)
Lord, let your presence fill this home …
For Sheelah and Win, living at The Maples has proved to be both an ecumenical adventure in faith and a way of continuing to live out their commitment as Daughters of Jesus.