OUGD603 — Brief 02 - Bijou Bridal Boutique - Boards


One of my aims for this academic year was to attempt to rekindle my relationship with web-design as this has always been a struggle to me due to the technical expertise required to make it happen in reality which would prevent me from designing effectively.

For this live brief, the guinea-pig was my Mum and her new bridal boutique that had just opened in Holmfirth as she needed a website to promote the shop and develop an established reputation.

Since last year, I have become very close friends with a guy called Chrish Dunne. Chrish graduated in Graphic Design last year at Leeds Metropolitan and has been freelancing since then for clients such as Relentless Energy, Fox News, and more independent businesses in the local area. Chrish focused his practice predominantly on web work during his degree and has developed impressive skills in back-end development thanks to it. I spoke to Chrish about the project I was going to complete for my Mum and asked him if he'd be interested in developing it into a fully functioning responsive site from my design. He was happy to help and we negotiated a reduced rate in the promise of more work in the future for site updates and development as the business grows.

This was the moment that made this project very enjoyable, I was able to fully disregard the area of web-design that I was not yet at a professional level and out-source it to a friend of mine, leaving me with the part that I find most enjoyable and that I am best at.

I had several meetings with my Mum and as each went by I realised more and more how terribly frustrating it can be to work with family members or loved ones. I was doing all of the work completely unpaid as it was for direct family and it's the least that she deserves for everything my parents have done for me in my life, however because she wasn't having to pay for it, this lead to many issues along the way. These involved changing her mind every few days (or hours while I was working on it), agreeing to my recommendations on content and layout and then challenging it, but the worst of all was the time pressures due to her not understanding the extent of what I was doing for her.

This project developed a lot of patience in me while working at the same time as teaching me how to deal with difficult clients.

The design itself was very enjoyable to complete as it is a market and target audience I have not worked with before, this meant the research process was very interesting such as the styles and themes of well established bridal shops and websites and how the quality wasn't much to work above, yet the prices were extraordinarily high. This issued a lot of confidence in my abilities and that I would produce something effective, easily navigated and visually beautiful and it would be built to that standard too thanks to my friend Chrish.

The final website has been live since the beginning of December and has attracted many customers from all over the North of England to visit the boutique. Mum makes a point of asking people that come in how they found her so that she knows what advertising is the most effective and they almost always say through the website and how beautiful it is. This is always a great thing to hear, especially as my Mum likes to text me every time it happens, I am really happy that I was able to create a product of work that I am very proud of at the same time as helping a loved one kickstart her business in a market thriving in competition.

OUGD603 — Brief 02 - Bijou Bridal Boutique - Live

Very happy to say the website is now live. Check it out here.

OUGD603 — Brief 02 - Bijou Bridal Boutique - Website build

When it came to building the site, four days estimate quickly turned into 3 weeks of work trying to fix hack parts of javascript. The developer, my friend Chrish, ended up saying that because the aim of the site is to be responsive and viewable on all devices, the design I had created is doable but with a very expensive javascript developer, with his knowledge a few things needed to change to make it work. This didn't effect the usability at all, it just made the responsive design more adaptable.

A week of tests with issues from a variety of screen sizes kept arising. The client's 2 in 1 sony vaio was a nightmare to work with because of it's peculiar dimensions. This made Chrish's job even harder because as soon as everything had been fixed, more problems arose from the fixes on a different device.

After some trial and error, he got it all working spot on. Not exactly to the original design but this taught me a lot about web development. What is sane - and what isn't.

OUGD603 — Brief 05 - The Ministry Of Wonderful - Boards


The Ministry of Wonderful brief was another visiting professional lead brief that I feel had the potential to be really enjoyable if I had more time and energy to push it to my usual standard.

Unfortunately this came about during a very busy time and I didn't have the time to develop it to a quality I was happy with.

I picked Retirement Home out of the hat to brand and was really excited to develop concepts to create something great out of such a bleak subject that upon researching i found quite a depressing reality in Britain.

This brief helped me practice researching and found the most effective to be discussing the subject with people. Jane Hansesgaard on the course is Danish and I asked her what the system is like over there and she explained that it is much more positive and designed to give everyone a really nice and enjoyable last few years of their lives as thanks for all they have done for society in their working lives. I found this to be amazing and still question why the UK do not have a similar outlook.

I pushed this into my concept and had to develop it very quickly before realising I had let myself down by not giving myself enough time on it and spending it on live briefs with approaching deadlines instead.

If I had more time or I didn't have as many jobs happening at once I would of loved to push this concept into something more effective, successful and well rounded as the challenge was well put together and an enjoyable experience.

OUGD603 — Brief 01 - Halleycat 2014 - Boards


This brief was a direct result of my plan to push myself into this academic year of the programme head-first. I approached Nathan Hughes, Director at Restrap, and Tim Pulleyn, blogger of The Broken Line, but also both the event organisers for the annual Halleycat the week we got back from Summer and with October just round the corner, I knew I had approximately two to three weeks until I would have to of finished and began production on print.

I had not yet been to the event before as I had only just started getting into cycling when the last one took place but as an independent fixed-gear event, it is one of the biggest in the country which consists of a selection of competitions on bikes that earn you points, one with the most points wins a cash prize and lots of goods from the sponsors. I had already heard a lot about it but I spent time researching it by searching the internet for photographic, filmed or written documentation of the past events.

This was a very fast-paced, yet smooth and well planned brief that got me straight back into my working routine which did a lot for my preparation and development of later projects and the beginning of my critical writing.

This brief allowed me to work on a full spectrum live branding project that was related to my passion of cycling. It also worked as a really positive networking tool that brought me close to the independent cycling businesses of the area and gained the trust in my abilities and professional practice of Nathan and Tim which lead to a collection of other briefs specifically for Restrap.

Within this brief I was able to have a go at a completely new practice which was videography. I have always been very interested in photography and have practiced with a DSLR for years but video was never something I have attempted. My skills in photography helped me establish the grounds of shooting video and gave me the chance of learning, developing and enhancing both new and existing knowledge in image capturing as well as software skills in Adobe Premiere.

I am very happy and proud of everything I designed, made and executed for the Halleycat brief and it has become a featured project that professionals like to discuss with me along with the brief starting some very positive friendships and business relationships with the cycling community in Leeds.

OUGD603 — Brief 07 - Restrap Packaging — Interim Boards

OUGD603 — Brief 03 - Dr.Me - Boards


The DR ME brief was a really good break from the current studio happenings that I feel everyone present benefited from. This however was a drawback too that at the time felt frustrating to take time out of what I was already doing, this was because of a looming deadline I was working to and this brief felt like it got in the way of that.

I didn't let these feelings get in the way with the opportunity of working in a collaboration with Dan Everitt where we combined ideas, aesthetics and concepts to form a response each but with the other being present and engaged in the process of it, allowing feedback, idea development and playing with the outcomes.

Brief 01 was the 12" vinyl sleeve design where we took the opportunity to experiment with collaging as that was the dominant practice involved at DR ME and something neither of us have ever tried. We listened to the music and began throwing around words that felt fitting to the theme before going to the library and spending a while exploring books and scanning them in. I found this process very difficult as it wasn't something I was used to, and even though it was a good idea for both of us to try something new and different with some guidance from visiting professionals, I don't feel like it benefited my way of thinking or my practice in any way. I really struggled to work with bits of imagery cut out and brought together as I am so used to creating my own content that moulds itself to the given brief. In the end we decided to put forward Dan's response as it felt much more fitting to the music and evoked a scene and presence that unfortunately mine didn't.

For the second brief, I felt like I was more in my prime. I enjoy making posters, especially when it is music related because there is usually a very awkward amount of content that needs to fit in a legible format at the same time as jumping out and grabbing the target audience. Neither of us had heard of the band before so we gave them a listen and even though it was to neither of our tastes, we tried to show the music in the visuals. I enforced this with hand-rendered typography contrasting with a sans-serif typeface, bright colours and a manipulated photograph of the front-man's face. I was really happy with this outcome as it communicated their music very well in my opinion and was fun to play with type again.

There wasn't much time to complete the final brief so while I was already in a type-focused mind-set I decided to draw some motivational hand-rendered typography that read 'Develop Yourself' this was a relaxing way to finish the day and outlet some creative juices.

The day-brief as a whole was very useful in giving me the chance to play with a different way of thinking and doing but I found that neither worked very well for me. DR ME were very interesting to talk to and shone light on a lot of different ways of thinking in pressured situations which I will take away with me and remember in future scenarios where there isn't much time to effectively create a developed concept.

If I was given the chance, I don't think I would do it again or change anything I did, it was helpful in some ways but I didn't enjoy it in the moment much and didn't feel excited about the work I was doing for it.

OUGD603 — Brief 05 - The Ministry Of Wonderful - Brand Development

Speaking to Jane on our course really got me thinking about how much better their retirement system is to here. It is so bleak here and unless you are quite wealthy and can afford a luxury private retirement home. To develop a brand that focused on affordable retirement in a peaceful area with no expensive luxuries but a much more lively atmosphere was what I wanted to focus on.

Jane told me that Danish retirement homes are similar to small flats that have their own facilities. This is great for the more independent elderly that aren't quite at the chair/bed-bound stage in their life, once that time comes around (if ever) more care is implemented.

I also read that Denmark is in the top 10 places to retire in the world and has the highest life satisfaction rating in the world. — Source

They focus a lot on enjoying the last years of their lives and are very engaged with taking their residents out of the retirement home for activities and day trips. They are usually situated on the coast so there are beautiful views and they are almost always very quiet and peaceful.

The idea of the residents being on a prolonged holiday to take a break from the difficulties and burdens of working life was something I was quite interested in, and that is why I am calling my retirement home 'Lang Ferie Retirement' - which means Long Holiday in Danish.

In regards to the brand's visuals I wanted to capture their values as the front line. To make sure this happened in my project I created a very simple logo involving the danish flag and some characteristic sans-serif type.

This felt quite corporate by itself which would prove to be an interesting experiment in branding as the aimed aesthetic must appeal to people in search for a retirement home either for themselves or a loved one.

Brand statements would entice viewers with the lifestyle and brand values such as:

"Take a long holiday."
"Retirement - the Danish way."
"Feel more alive than ever."

I thought maybe pulling this together with photography would communicate these brand values and override the logo to become part of a welcoming & friendly identity. This paired with a strong colour foundation secures a consistent visual for the brand.

I will be interested to hear the feedback SM have for the direction I have gone in and the outcome of the brief.

OUGD603 — Brief 05 - The Ministry Of Wonderful - Planning & Research

Firstly I created a mind-map with all of the questions outlined within the brief.

I have never been to a retirement home before so I was curious as to what it'd be like. I would of liked to visit one personally which I might do but without having much playable time on my hands at the moment I looked online instead.

A day in the life of an old people's home. —

"Most of us will end our days in an old people's home, said the subheading – though not the text – on a feature piece. In the hospital or at home is actually where most of us die.


The 26 residents at Raglan House can very crudely be grouped into the living and the dying. The dying remain in private rooms, in bed, barely aware of night and day, their dwindling existence regulated by four-hourly nursing checks, changes to their incontinence pads, a few kind words from the care assistants as they smooth the pillows.
The living start their day shortly after six when staff begin hoisting them from their beds with crane-like machines, remove their night clothes, wash them with a sponge, dress them, transfer them to their wheelchairs and push them into the day room.
One by one, six widows in their 80s and 90s arrive to sit together at the central table, rolling into the places they occupy every morning. Peggy Dunn drives herself in an electric wheelchair, a highly sought-after piece of equipment provided by the NHS wheelchair services to those deemed sufficiently mentally agile to be safe.
Elsie Stone, 89, who has had both legs amputated, wheels herself in, slowly, her chair creaking as she makes her way across the room. ("Come on Speedy," Peggy says. "I can't. My arms hurt this morning," Elsie replies.) Lois Kettly and Violet Grove arrive and wait for someone to bring them breakfast. No one says anything.
Sometime after 7.30, Peggy, who has been here for eight years, breaks the silence to ask: "What shall we do today?" Her companions do not reply.
"Let's do something different today," she persists. "Let's go on strike."
"On strike?" Elsie replies with a pale smile. "On strike from the monotony? It's the same every day. Every day."
Monmouth Court on the outskirts of Ipswich is a nursing home run by Bupa, with 150 beds shared out between four one-storey units, of which Raglan House is one. The gardens are lovely; the 1980s brick buildings are reminiscent of a Welcome Break motorway cafe. The home has two stars, which ranks it as good and makes it representative of the vast majority of Britain's care homes, where around 394,000 elderly people are currently housed. This is not a home for people who have paid for Bupa health insurance; 90% of the beds are paid for by the state rather than private contributions.
The government will today publish a long-awaited green paper into how care and support for the elderly should be reformed. It is not an area that the government has successfully focused on recently – there have been four ministers for care in the past five years – but it is a subject that requires urgent attention. Over the next 20 years, the number of people over 85 will double, the number over 100 will quadruple, and officials expect that 1.7 million people will need care and support. Funding is already thin and expected to get sparser still, as local authorities see their budgets slashed.
More of us will end our lives in these institutions, about which (unless we have admitted family members to one) we know so little. They remain shut away, forgotten about, only the focus of occasional media attention when something scandalous happens.


A few newspapers arrive.
One of the frailer residents of the day room needs to go to the loo, so two care assistants fetch the electronic hoist and slip nylon straps beneath her bottom, fastening them into a sling between her legs, hiking her skirt down as she is winched up to stop her naked thighs being exposed to the scrutiny of her companions, at pains to ensure the clear plastic oxygen tube running from her nose does not get tangled in the mechanism.
She moans and cries out in fright throughout the process. "Ow ow. My left foot. My left foot. My left foot. Am I doing all right? I'm very uncomfortable. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Ow. It hurts. It hurts. Bless you, bless you. Sorry."
"You're no trouble at all," the carers reply. The staff are accustomed to her cries and they know the hoists feel awkward. "It's a horrible sensation. We've all tried it," the unit's senior nurse Chrstine Driscoll says.
To be fair to the valiant efforts of the home's staff, life here is not quite the same every day, given the constraints of looking after a group which includes many who are confused, immobile and incontinent (a triumvirate of conditions known in this sector as "the unholy trinity"). On Wednesdays, after breakfast is cleared away, there is bingo. On Thursdays, there are visits to the on-site hairdresser.
Everyone has a shower and a hair wash once a week. Once a year a few of the more physically able residents are taken for a trip to the market in nearby Bury St Edmunds. It is a highlight much anticipated.
The six widows spend their days at the central table where they eat their meals, grouped together because their physical and mental state is about the same. Three more women, in feebler condition, spend the day in armchairs pushed against the wall. Another woman, profoundly deaf, prefers to sit at a table by herself; she feels frustrated when people try to talk to her. There is also a separate table for a man whom nurses describe as a naturist. "He gets a bit upset that he can't sit here with no clothes on; I tell him it's fine to do that in his room with the door shut," a nurse says.
This morning he is sitting with his hand clapped to the right side of his face, as if he has just remembered some terrible news, but his hand stays there for five minutes, and after a while it becomes clear that he is not in shock but simply asleep. A nurse strokes his back to wake him up. "Have you got pain, my love?" she asks, and fetches him something from the medicine trolley.
Medicine is distributed four times a day. About a third of the residents are on antidepressants to help them cope with being here. One apparently cheerful and well-settled woman is on a heavy dose to counter her suicidal tendencies. Before she started taking them, she tried to hang herself using the assistance bell cord in her room.
If you ask them how they like it here, most of the six widows, born during the first world war or the 1920s, will insist that they are all right, that they can't complain, that the food is lovely and the nurses wonderful. It is hard to determine whether this is stoicism or a self-protective determination not to focus on the reality of their situation: that they have been sent here by their family or doctors because they can no longer look after themselves, and they are unlikely to go anywhere else before they die.
It is only when they move away from the group, and talk quietly with a care assistant or a visitor, that the guard begins to come down.
"I think I'd like to go to my daughter. I suppose so," Lois, a mentally sharp woman, forced into a wheelchair by a stroke, admits with some reluctance. When she arrived here two years ago, the plan had been that her daughter would convert her garage into a granny flat, but nurses say the subject is no longer raised and a two-week stay has stretched into two years. Lois understands the decision: "They've got their own life. I don't want to put a burden on her."
Violet has recently been obliged to sell the flat where she had lived with her husband for 30 years in order to pay fees of around £3,000 a month for the home. She has been here for two years since she fell downstairs and hurt her knees. Anyone with assets of more than £23,500 may (depending on their medical state) find themselves obliged to pay their own way until the money runs out. Residents who do not have any savings are paid for by the state, contributing their pension and receiving an allowance of around £21 a week to buy whatever extra they might need – clothes, presents, shampoo. Those who have been frugal and saved for their retirement see the means-tested system as an unfair punishment for thriftiness.
Violet shrugs. "I did feel emotionally attached to [the flat]. I did," she concedes. "But I have got to the point now where I have given up worrying about it. I'm comfortable here. When you get here you don't worry about the future."
The most content residents are those like Miranda Waits, 92, absorbed in detailed memories of a distant happiness. She has delightful recollections of her time in the 1930s as a teenage shop assistant in Woolland Brothers, an upmarket stocking shop in Knightsbridge, London. "Once I travelled up in the lift with the Queen of Holland. She had two bodyguards in with her and I thought, cor, they look nice. We had a lot of royalty come in," she says.
"Woolland Brothers," she adds, rolling the R in Brothers unexpectedly, giving the word the status it once had by her careful articulation. "I rather think they have gone now."
Life here is another era preserved. The names are from the 1920s (Ethel, Alfred, Dot, Winifred, Gladys), the accents are a thicker Suffolk than heard anywhere now, the residents are all white, and talk about jobs they had that no longer exist (seamstresses, drapers), using defunct exclamations ("Cor blimey"). No one here has a mobile, and the only electronic chirping is the alarm to say that someone needs to be taken out of the loo.
In a corner, Elsie is suddenly made sad by the memory of her mother, who lost two children during the diphtheria epidemic of 1915 and had two more late in life to replace them (Elsie and a brother). "But she was too old, well over 40, and she was never well. She died soon after," she says. And then she begins to weep suddenly about her own missing legs. "I used to have terrible ulcers on the front of my legs. When I first went to work when I was 14, I used to cycle to work in all weather. I don't know if I got frostbite, but my legs used to break out in ulcers," she says. "It is very heartbreaking at times, to go around and see everybody else has got legs and you haven't got any."


The windows of the day room are flung open, and the air is fresh, but in the enclosed corridors the smell of urine is distinct, more intense by the doors of some rooms. The home is impeccably clean, but these smells are inevitable in a unit where only one of the 26 residents is able to go to the loo independently.
Many are so resistant to the notion of being in a home that they refuse to spend time in the communal areas, choosing instead to sit in their own rooms 365 days a year.
One woman arrives to visit her husband who can no longer speak after a stroke to the right side of his brain. They are both 83. She looks cheerful after a week abroad with her children, but her jauntiness fades as she talks about the family's decision to move her husband here.
"He has to be hoisted everywhere. My family said, 'Mum – there's no way you can possibly do it.' Len, you do understand don't you?" she says looking at his face. "I couldn't do it, darling. There was just no option. He comes home sometimes, but it is very difficult.
"It's not bad here Len, is it? It could be worse." His response is unintelligible, and his wife strains to interpret some expressive eye movements, eyes thrown up to the sky in apparent frustration. He abandons the attempt.
Along the corridor is Annie Price, another woman who has refused to sit in the communal room since arriving in February 2007, so has spent approximately 900 days of near-solitude alone in her room, the peace disturbed only by periodic checks from the care staff and the occasional visit from her nieces.
Being transported here, when her doctors and nieces decided she could no longer cope at home, essentially represented the end of life, but she won't quite allow herself to say so. Like most of her companions she expresses her reservations with her life here in a deadened, muted understatement accompanied by a defiant stare through watery green eyes.
"It's not home here. It's a different sort of life to what I was used to. To give up your home . . . it's a loss of everything really. Every day in here . . ." she says, frowning at the knitting she is doing for babies in Africa. "If I hadn't got knitting to do, I don't know what I'd do. I'd go barmy," she says, holding up a pale blue baby cardigan, smiling in satisfaction. "Imagine a little dark baby in that."
Someone has tried to sweeten her existence by putting a bird table outside the window, and inside there are other attempts to mitigate the misery of her life in this shoe-box shaped room – photos of relatives' weddings, framed pictures of her long dead, bricklayer husband, looking handsome in a soldier's uniform.


In room one, an 82-year-old woman has arrived by bus to spend the day sitting alongside her 87-year-old husband, as she has done six days a week for the last year and a half, ever since he was paralysed by a stroke and moved here. She passes the time in an armchair next to his wheelchair, watching television, holding his hand, sometimes sleeping.
"You want me here, don't you?" she asks.
"Definitely," he replies and squeezes her wrist.
"He's been such a good husband and father. It does get a bit tiring. I will say that. Just sitting here," she says, and begins to cry. "But we've been married 63 years. I just don't want to leave him."


Beer and sherry are served in the day room and lunch comes about an hour later. Most of the six widows have barely moved from their places at the table since being wheeled here sometime between 6am and 9am. Little has been said.
An anxious woman in the corner cries out: "Dropped me sherry. What can I do? Dropped me sherry. What can I do? Dropped it all now."
The unit's "hostess" comes over to clean up and to ask what she'd like for lunch tomorrow; they discuss and she decides. "That's what I'll have if I'm alive," she mutters.
The care staff huddle in the corner, wearing yellow plastic aprons, waiting for the food to arrive, laughing over magazines together. Most of them are very young – these are their first jobs out of school; some are thinking of becoming nurses. Rachel Durham, 20, started here six months ago after working for Primark. "With shop work you're just putting stuff in a bag or rearranging hangers. At the end of the day here, you know that you've done something good," she says.
Among the widows, there is a desultory attempt at conversation.
"They're not dancing these days like we used to," Peggy says. "They don't go to dances."
"They call them hops today," Elsie replies.
White paper disposable bibs are tied around the women's necks by care staff, in a curiously undignified procedure, applied equally to the frail and the capable alike. No one protests.


Matron Claudette Lyons comes in, rubbing her hands together, advancing briskly through her lunchtime inspection. "How is everybody?" she asks. There is a muted, to negligible, response.
Residents spend less time in nursing homes now than they did a decade ago, and those who are here have many more needs than they did a decade ago. Staff remember how, until relatively recently, people would request a car parking space when they arrived. Now they tend to arrive in an ambulance, and there is no prospect of them ever driving themselves around again. Most residents now sleep on air mattresses or hospital beds, rather than normal beds – another sign that they are iller now when they turn up.
Government policy has increasingly been directed at providing more nursing help for people in their own homes. Although funding for more home visits has increased, the experience can be very isolating for the most sick, who are unable to do anything during the long stretches when they are alone. Those who are admitted now are much older, frailer, and sometimes traumatised by the prolonged effort of coping for themselves at home.
Staff estimate that most of the residents here (because it's a nursing home, which also specialises in palliative care for the dying) last for months, not years. "We have some people who come in who can't accept being here. They don't like it. They don't stay with us for long," Driscoll says.
But Lyons refuses to see death as failure. Under her direction, nurses strive to give residents a "good death", pain-free, with minimum disturbance at the end. She is well-liked by her staff and the turnover is low – one of the key things people searching for a home are advised to look out for. Gold taps and chandeliers are nothing if the home doesn't have dedicated leadership and friendly carers.


Coming into the day room in the afternoon from the outside world, it is hard not to feel a surge of shock at the whole arrangement. Six of the room's nine occupants are asleep in their chairs. One fragile 92-year-old woman looks as though she is being swallowed by her armchair, her spindly elbows barely poking up over the arm rests, her head flopped over her chest, her leg bones skewed uncomfortably, her knuckles twitching.
The scene of torpid, joyless inertia is very dispiriting – but it isn't really the fault of the nursing home managers. The staff here are kind, the rooms are bright, the care is thoughtful and attentive – and yet none of this compensates for the home's unspoken function: a place where elderly people are left by their families to die.
The strangeness of the situation is felt more acutely by foreign staff. A young Iraqi student nurse (who began training in dentistry at Baghdad University before fleeing the war) dances around the issue at first, unwilling to criticise his newly adopted country, before resolving to speak out.
"I had never seen this kind of place before – it was a new experience for me. In Iraq, as part of our culture we look after our grandmothers and grandfathers at home until they pass away. We say, you looked after us, you dedicated your life to us and then we pay you back. We believe that as much as we do, we have done nothing compared to what they have done for us," he says.
He is dismayed by the number of residents who get only occasional visits from their family. "If they had the chance to go back home, this place would be empty tomorrow. But they have got no one to go to. Their homes have been sold."
The English staff also admit readily that they can imagine no worse future for themselves.
"Depressing isn't it," one care assistant says, eating chips in the garden. "They don't complain too much because they've been here a while. I'd never want to end up here with someone else wiping my bum. The same thing, day-in day-out."
Even a visiting Bupa manager says: "Who wants to be in a care home? I don't. I don't suppose anyone does, to be honest."


In the neighbouring unit, a 74-year-old man with a serious lung condition has been admitted by his wife for a month, because she needs to have an operation to treat her bowel cancer and will not be able to give him the constant care he needs. It is not clear whether she will be well enough to look after him once she returns home, so what appears to be a short-term stay could likely become permanent. Because they have savings of more than £23,000, they will have to pay £918 a week for an ensuite room. Their life savings will be rapidly eaten away if the stay becomes long-term. "It does seem unfair that you put aside a bit of money for your family and that all goes," the wife says.
But these complaints about funding seem really to be the more acceptable focus for anxiety, because the enormity of the underlying situation – a wife leaving her husband in an nursing home, perhaps for ever; that this is perhaps the end of their lives together – is too unbearable to discuss. The two sit in the empty room, facing each other blankly, waiting for a meal to arrive.


A nurse is trying to give medicine to Betty, a tangled skeleton of a woman in the corner.
"This is your new tablet," the nurse says.
Betty, who has said virtually nothing all day, refuses it, commenting: "I know what it will do to me. It's a nasty one. I'm not taking it."
She refuses to eat. "It's yoghurt, Betty, it's yoghurt. Betty, you don't want yoghurt?"
"I don't want it."
The other 10 people in the room are served sandwiches.
"My daughter brought me two new jumpers. They hung all the way down, like this. She said, 'Whatever I buy you, it's never right,'" Peggy says. There is little acknowledgement that she has spoken.
The fitter residents pull off their own white bibs at the end of the meal and crumple them up; the others wait to be cleaned up by the workers. One by one they are wheeled out to their rooms and undressed by staff who work in pairs, because the hoists require two people.
Meals are given individually to the sicker residents in their rooms. Arms immobile by her side, Diana Beech submits to being fed by a young carer. The television is showing Wimbledon but her eyes are focused, unmoving, on the door and the corridor beyond.
There is a selection of pureed food, some of it green, some brown. "Some sort of meat as well," the carer says scrutinising it and spooning it into Diana's mouth.
Diana groans and coughs and the feeding stops.
"All right? Go down the wrong hole? DO YOU WANT ANY MORE?" the carer asks, shouting to be heard. There is a feeble, whispered yes.
The dance between carer and patient is not always in time. Sometimes the spoon arrives too early, and the green sludge hovers by the mouth for a few seconds until the cavity opens. Sometimes the mouth is open and waiting, tongue drooping out, before the spoon has left the plate.
The process takes 45 minutes. When Diana no longer has the energy to whisper yes or no to offers of food, she raises a long and elegant manicured finger on the bed to indicate when she is ready for more. The bright carmine red nail polish is incongruous – it's the fingernail of a 1940s femme fatale, not a dying woman in a flowered nightdress.


The unit nurse decides that a woman sleeping in an end room should now formally be classified as dying, and begins to fill out paperwork accordingly: is she bedbound? (tick); only able to take sips of fluids? (tick); semi-comatose? (tick); no longer able to take tablets? (tick). She is placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway, a clearly demarcated care plan for the dying, which means that from now on she will only be moved for essential procedures and drugs will only be administered to ease her pain. Staff estimate that she has two, perhaps three days, and her relatives are informed, but since she has been at death's door several times before, they decide not to come immediately.
Given that everyone is sent here to die, it's peculiar how infrequently the subject is brought up. "The elderly in general don't like talking about death. It's a taboo," the Iraqi nurse observes. Violet will only reluctantly address the subject. "We have one or two passers-on. We're not really involved in it here. We don't see much of it."
It is true that the dying is done, largely, out of sight of the occupants of the day room. "Those who are mentally quite aware will see us rushing about, and will notice the relatives crying," Christine Driscoll, the unit manager, says. "When the funeral people arrive, we usually shut all the doors along the corridors to give the family some privacy."
Christine does not find the process upsetting. "When I first started nursing, I worked in a burns unit and seeing younger people die, that made me sad. But I feel with this, at least they have lived their lives. As long as we keep them comfortable and they have a pain-free and dignified death – that's what we aim for."


Yomi Owalabi, the unit nurse on duty for the night, makes his rounds of the 26 rooms where residents are almost all in bed, watching television in their rooms. He has a different style for everyone, playful with some of the more lively women, tender and kind with the sick.
He spoons water into Diana's mouth. "How are you today? That frog is still in your throat? You need to drink. Please now," he says, adding approvingly when she accepts some liquid, "Lovely girl."
In the corridors there is the sound of a choking cough, and the blended noise of televisions broadcasting different channels at high volume.
"How are you today?" Yomi asks at every room. "Not too good," many reply. "Very, very poorly." "Don't worry," he comforts them. "Don't worry."
"Are you all right, Madam?" he asks, as he fits a bag of liquid beige food to a pipe that is inserted into the stomach of a woman who has recently given up eating. He measures out several liquid medicines, which are also fed down the wires to her stomach.
She tries to push the tube away. "I don't want these wires on me any more. I don't want no more. Can you take it out?"
Some of them get pills to help them sleep, others have another antidepressant, some have strong painkillers that they drink with orange squash. Yomi and the two care assistants on duty will return to check discreetly at everyone's door every hour through the night.
"Ageing is a natural thing but sometimes it is very nasty," Yomi says when he sits down to fill in paperwork.
Later, he spends a long time tending to the woman who is at the brink of death, massaging her shoulders and stroking her hair. "Never mind," he says gently, and cleans her mouth with a small pink medical sponge attached to a cotton bud. She has no teeth, and her face has fallen inwards where her mouth used to be. Her eyes don't open, but there is a noise which could be a sigh or a moan.
"I'll be back," he tells her. "You wait for me.""

After reading this account of what seems like a home that actually cares for it's residents, i'd hate to imagine the state of people in the homes that are more worse for wears.

A retirement home now seems like quite a sad place where old people go to die because their families don't have time for them anymore.

How can that be different?
Can a retirement home be a place of peace & quiet, a break from a busy family? Almost a holiday with similar people of similar ages? With stuff to do?

Obviously as the elderly get older and more frail, certain things are just not realistic due to energy or illness. How can those people still feel alive in a retirement home?

Would the bed-bound be happier if they could be around others with the freedom to talk to one-another? Things to do that do not require movement or much energy? Some people aren't as social but they are already happy in the way retirement homes already are.

This 'brand' of retirement home could be aimed at a certain group of the elderly — the ones that still want a life but just calmed down in a place where they are looked after.

I spoke to Jane & Sophie about what I'd learned about retirement homes and Jane told me about when she worked in one in Denmark when she was 18 and the way they work is very different over there. Rather than everything being communal apart from their rooms, the more abled residents have their own facilities and kitchens but have bells if they require assistance, they are also checked up on to make sure they are okay.

This seemed like a great idea as it gave the new arrivals more independence to allow them to settle in and not feel like they had something wrong with them.

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