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Brothers transform care home garden in dad's memory

The garden at Clifton Lodge care home in Westcliff following the makeover

Residents at a care home have beautiful gardens to enjoy thanks to the hard work of their loved ones and staff.

Family members have been helping staff at Clifton Lodge in Balmoral Road, Westcliff, to transform the outside space into a memory garden and herb garden.

Brothers Mike and Dave Gregory offered to renovate the memory garden as a thank you for the care given to their dad Edward, who stayed at the care home for about 18 months.

Mike, 60, said: “When he was diagnosed with dementia, one of the things he was adamant about was he didn’t want to go into a care home. There was a bit of apprehension about him going into a home but we found the experience really good.

“He settled in very well and he made friends within the home. All the staff were not just carers but also friends. They were really respectful of him and really supportive.”

Edward Gregory

Dave, 62, said: “He went into the home in the middle of the covid pandemic, which meant we couldn’t see him, making it doubly worse.

“We would have telephone calls with care home manager, Pippa Crocket, and Zoom calls with activities co-ordinator The Reverend Sandie Woolford and our Dad (pictured right).

“They were wonderful to watch. Even though we couldn’t be with him, seeing his relationship with Sandie we got so much pleasure seeing Dad being so happy and that gave us so much reassurance of the care and love he was getting in the home.”

Once Covid restrictions had lifted, the brothers were able to visit but sadly Edward died aged 88 in October last year.

They wanted to help Clifton Lodge in return for the care the staff had given him and asked what they could do to help.

Mike said: “We’re both retired now and one of the things they suggested was the garden.

“The garden itself backed onto the room where Dad stayed. Because of Covid, we never got a chance to get out there to spend time with him. It became important to us to get the garden back in use.”

Dave added: “Once Dad passed, we certainly missed going to the home and the relationship we had built up with everyone over that period.

“People had seen us go through quite desperate moments with Dad and supported us as well, so the fact we were able to continue that relationship and were able to give something back to the home by helping in the garden is great for us. And we get a great amount of pleasure just going to the home to do that.”

Dave and Michael GregoryDave and Mike Gregory at work in the memory garden


The brothers spent two full days of clearing the garden, pruning overgrown plants and shrubs, painting benches and the pergola, and planting a vegetable patch. They are continuing to help maintain the garden, and other families have also provided flowers and vegetable plants.

Activities co-ordinator The Reverend Sandie Woolford said: “Families have mentioned how lovely it looks and have been enjoying the experience of spending a little time in a peaceful place to sit and connect with their memories and enjoyment of company.

“Here at Clifton Lodge we are all hands-on engaging with visitors and any requests they may have in wanting to support or help staff at the nursing home.

“There is a good rapport and for some no job is too small and when a family offer help we support and encourage it. Clifton Lodge is not only a nursing home for older adults but a family orientated support group and we always go the extra mile.”

The herb garden is also undergoing a makeover. Sandie has been tidying the shrubs and plants and together with Peter Watson, whose wife is a resident at Clifton Lodge, has given the tired benches a fresh coat of paint and varnish.

Peter Watson

Peter Watson renovated two of the benches in the herb garden


Sandie said: “We have two bird feeders which I am refilling every couple of days and many birds are now joining the table to feed.

“Residents who attend the breakfast club can see the birds feeding and gasp in surprise when they see them. This also brings about exciting discussions, which is lovely to see.”

Clifton Lodge is one of two care homes managed by Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) and looks after people with dementia.

In January, EPUT was rated as one of the top 15 providers in England for dementia-friendly care in the latest Patient-Led Assessment of the Care Environment (PLACE) review.

The review took place across 760 beds, 44 wards and 18 inpatient units across the Trust.

Local people (known as patient assessors) went into sites providing NHS-funded care to patients to assess how the environment supported the provision of clinical care. This included assessing privacy and dignity, food, cleanliness, general building maintenance and the extent to which the environment supported the care of people with dementia or a disability. 

PLACE assessments take place every year, and results are published to help drive improvements in the care environment. The results show how hospitals are performing both nationally and in relation to other hospitals providing similar services.

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