Royal visit marks official opening for Brendoncare’s latest development

    Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill, a ground-breaking new development which marries dementia care with independent living, a care home and a community hub, was officially opened in January by HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO.


    The Countess is the patron of Winchester-based Brendoncare Foundation, the registered charity behind the project, which operates a series of care homes throughout the south of England.

    The royal visit marked a fitting finale for the development, as it was the Countess who officially started the construction project back in November 2016.

    During her visit, the Countess met some of the residents who had already moved in, together with their families and members of staff, and was entertained by both the Otterbourne Hill Choir and children from the neighbouring Yellow Dot Nursery.

    Charity chief executive Carole Sawyers said: “The Countess has been a great support, she has helped us raise a lot of money and we feel very lucky to have her as our patron. She takes a real interest, is keen to know about the services we offer and how they impact on the lives of the people who live here.

    “And, given she was here at the beginning when she put the first spade in the ground, she was very excited to return and told us she really enjoyed seeing it all coming together.”

    Welcoming her on the day were Her Majesty’s lord lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson, and Joseph MacHale, chairman of Brendoncare Foundation, together with other local dignitaries and many of the donors and supporters who had helped the project come to fruition.

    Built at a cost of more than £14 million, Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill, near Winchester, combines a specialist 64-bed nursing and dementia care home with a series of one and two-bedroom apartments for couples and individuals; plus a community hub for activities, information and resources, which is open to both residents and the local community.

    Work was completed in summer 2018 and the first residents moved in last August, as part of a phased programme of arrivals which completes this June. Providing financial support was Barclays, which already worked with the charity, and provided a £10.4m development loan.

    Sawyers continued: “This has been a really important step for Brendoncare. It’s our first new service in 10 years and it has been very special and also very innovative in the way that we have designed our apartments.

    “Very often, if one half of a couple develops dementia they will have to live separately but our apartments allow them to stay together. We are already seeing what a difference this has made to peoples’ lives; they have really settled in and are almost regaining a little of their independence because of the environment.

    “From day one we had fabulous feedback, residents soon started to put their own stamp on things and every time you visit, it feels more like home. It’s great to see the different spaces being used, the community hub has a real buzz and a vibrant feel, the upstairs café has become a real meeting place and people have been looking forward to using the terrace as the weather warms up.

    “Barclays has been a great support to us. They have been very much part of the team, have visited us regularly throughout the build programme, talking to us and making sure everything has been on track, and they have been excited as we were, which has been very nice.”

    Tai chi and Zumba classes, plus the choir and quizzes are among the activities on hand; a regular dementia advisory service is run by a visiting charity, and hair and beauty services are also available.

    Building close links with the nearby community is important to Brendoncare and local people are invited to join in activities at Otterbourne Hill. Among the most popular visitors are youngsters from the nursery school who now visit regularly to sing and read alongside the residents who, says Sawyers, benefit from “intergenerational mixing”.


    Carole Sawyers

    01962 852133


    Ian Corben

    07775 553100


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