Twenty-five is a significant number for Gillaroo Lodge Nursing Home at The Roddens, Larne, this year, because the 25 residents will soon be joining with staff and friends to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of the home.
Most parents of grown up children eventually reach a stage when they decide to retire and enjoy having an ‘empty nest’.
Not so Tom and Margaret Boyle, proprietors of Gillaroo Lodge. In 1986, when they might have been thinking about retirement, they decided to start a new adventure together.
They converted their family home into Gillaroo Lodge Nursing Home, and built a new home for themselves in the grounds.
Both Tom and Margaret are still actively involved in the day to day running of the home, and their daughter Liz Rowan, has also joined the family business.
The nurse manager is Nicki McCrudden, who was one of the original members of staff in 1988.
They have been sharing some of their thoughts about the highlights of the last 25 years.
Tom said: “I love the fact that our staff stay with us for so long and are so committed to sharing our goal of excellent care. Nurse Ann Vance was part of the original team and is still with us 25 years on.
“Seven members of staff have so far received long service awards for 20 years’ service. It means a lot to us that these staff members have chosen to stay with us and that they take such pride in providing care in our home.
“In fact, the care is so good that we even have a resident who has been with us for 24 years. I’m sure that must be a record.
“Another recent highlight for me was that our gardens won an award in the SuperValu Best Kept awards last year.
“Although I am no longer able to maintain the gardens myself, I still play a very active role in planning the seasonal planting. It is a delight to wander round all the different areas and see what’s in bloom.
“During our recent open day, this was a highlight for many of the visitors to the home.”
Margaret continued: “For me, the highlight of the past 25 years has to be the opportunities I have on a daily basis to interact with people on a personal level.
“Tom and I are both Larne people, so we often know several generations of the families for whom we provide care.
“I love making the connections and find this is a distinct advantage when I chat to the residents – we can reminisce over so many things together.
“I have loved the recent experience of seeing five generations of one family in the home. It’s not often that we care for great-great-grandmother.”
Liz added: “Like my mum, Margaret, I trained as a teacher, and I take great delight in seeing young people develop themselves.
“For me, one of the highlights has to be seeing young people joining the staff and gaining experience which they can use for their future career development.”
Judith Davies started in Gillaroo Lodge as a relief care assistant when she was still at school. She continued to work throughout her nursing studies and still works for us – as a relief staff nurse.
Mark Eastop started as a volunteer in the home as he wants to study medicine and thought this experience would give him something to write about in his personal statement. It wasn’t long before we realised that Mark could be much more than just a volunteer.
“The ladies in the home just love him, so he has been working regularly with us for the past year.
“He recently used some of the skills he has learned in Gillaroo Lodge when he went to Ethiopia to help with a project run by Habitat for Humanity.”
Nicki said: “I was one of the first members of staff to be recruited in 1988, but I worked in other larger homes for a few years between 2005 and March this year, when I returned to Gillaroo as nurse manager.
“I fondly remember those early days when my daughter Naomi was still a baby. I used to feed her, settle her for the night and then report for night duty.
“Now Naomi is a trained nurse, employed in the Royal Victoria hospital Belfast, and does some relief shifts for the home. How time moves on. I love being back in Gillaroo where the standards of care have remained constant over the past 25 years. It really does feel like home.”
The directors, staff, residents and friends of Gillaroo Lodge will be celebrating the 25th anniversary on Saturday 7 September with a hog roast and fun afternoon.
Tom and Margaret Boyle and Liz Rowan, directors, wish to thank their committed and professional staff team for helping them to deliver quality care to the people of Larne over the past 25 years and to thank their suppliers for enabling them to purchase quality products and services locally.