Ernest And Joyce's Romance Continues At Care Home 'Date Night'

Couple first met as teenagers at Wimbledon speedway track

A care home in Raynes Park is showing how romance can be kept alive for elderly couples in residential care.

Link House on Blenheim Road has launched ‘date nights’ for residents to give them the chance to have a special meal with the one they love.

The first couple to make a date was Ernest and Joyce Callard, who originally met as teenagers at Wimbledon speedway track.

Ernest, aged 85, moved into Link House three months ago because he needed nursing care. After 64 years of marriage, the pair missed meals together so manager Cristina Capper stepped in.

“Eating together is something we do every day and couples can really miss that time to sit and chat. We created a very special lunch for the Callards because Joyce doesn’t like to go out at night. We want everyone’s date to be exactly how they want it.”

Joyce and Ernest were able to order their food, just as they would at a restaurant, and chose scampi, chips and peas with a glass of wine and a choice of dessert. 

Joyce said: “I go to see Ernest five or six times a week but we never get the chance to sit down and eat together. I wanted to dress up as this was a special occasion for us.” 

The pair met aged 16 at the speedway track, where they used to wait for riders to come out to collect their autographs. They got engaged three years later and married when they were 21.

Ernest has had a life-long love of food, working as a chef at the Dorchester Hotel for 40 years.

“I would always cook our meals at home because he’d been doing it all day,” said Joyce.  “Although he would give me tips now and then, I was a good cook and he said he liked my food. He sometimes found what was on offer at the Dorchester a bit fancy for his taste!”

The Callards had a private lunch in one of the home’s lounges and their table was decorated with flowers and candles, and a wedding photo provided by their daughter.

“We had a lovely time and the food was delicious,” said Ernest. “They made it special for us and I can’t wait until we can do it again.”

Date night is one of the initiatives new manager, Cristina Capper, has launched since she took up the post in August.  She is looking forward to using her 20 years of experience at Link House.

“I’ve always had a passion for elderly care,” she said. “My approach has always been to see people as individuals and that’s very much how we care for residents here.  So no two date nights will be the same because no two people are the same.”

If the scheme is a success it could be replicated throughout the home’s parent group, C&C, which runs eight care homes in the Greater London area.

November 21, 2016

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Ernest and Joyce Callard