Lawnfield Life

Isobel Leslie

25.10.2016 | Social Witness, Mission

Isobel Leslie is the manager of Lawnfield House in Newcastle, Co. Down, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s respite care home. Nestling at the foot of Slieve Commedagh and with views across the Irish Sea, Lawnfield is a haven for older people, people with mild learning difficulties and those with various physical disabilities. In her blog she writes about the seaside home, those who come to stay and the need for the ‘Lawnfield Houses’ of this world.

For those looking for a break away from home, Lawnfield is a very pretty and restful place. We took over the running from the Disabled Christian Fellowship in September 2014, and since then we have been going from strength to strength.

We have residents who have been coming to Lawnfield for over 20 years, and we are continually getting new referrals from all Northern Ireland’s health and social care trusts.

Respite care is important to the many people who come and stay and to their families as well. It’s a tranquil spot for residents to relax and while they are here, they receive the care and attention that they need, just as if they were at home.

People need respite care for a variety of reasons. It might be that the family are poorly and can’t manage the care for a while, or that they want a rest or have booked a holiday. Or it can be that the person needs some respite. All our 20-rooms are wheelchair accessible and for whatever reason, we want people to feel like they’re being really well taken care of and that staff understand their needs.

Sharon from County Tyrone has been coming to Lawnfield since it opened in 1993. She spends five weeks a year here and told me that she loved “everything about the place, especially the atmosphere and Christian fellowship.” She said that Lawnfield has an “uplifting atmosphere” and that she enjoyed being able to go out, as we have outings twice a week and trips into Newcastle. She also said that, “it really is a blessing of a place,” which is wonderful to hear.

As a team, we are focused on making each stay like a holiday, a place where it is enjoyable to keep returning to, so for me it’s exactly the same as people coming to a hotel – we make sure that we are aware of all the personal requirements, only in our case, we ensure that each care plan is always tailor-made to the needs of the service user.

We have self-funding guests and five permanent residents, plus many regular visitors, some of whom, like Sharon, book in several times a year for up to two weeks at a time.

But it isn’t just our beautiful location, the day trips, or the professionalism of my staff that brings people back - although that is part of it of course - it is the Christian values and Christian ethos that are embedded in Lawnfield, which are so important to the life and character of the place.

While we are owned and run by the Presbyterian Church, our residents and service users come from all denominations and none - all are welcome.

Since the formation of the Presbyterian Orphan and Children’s Society in 1866, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has played a key role in ministering to the physical needs of people, working in partnership with many different organisations. The Church’s Council for Social Witness has overall management responsibility for Lawnfield House and the Church’s 17 other projects across Ireland.

You can find out more about Lawnfield House here. You can also view the author’s profile here.

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