Author Archives: Andrea DaGama

New £10.5m nursing care centre at Whiteley Village

Thursday 26 September 2019

A sense of home is at the heart of new nursing care centre
at Whiteley Village

The Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr Michael More-Molyneux and Cllr. Mrs Mary Sheldon, Mayor of Elmbridge seen here with Whiteley Homes Trust CEO Chandra McGowan and Chair, Rod Bennion OBE cutting the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the Eliza Palmer Hub

A new £10.5m nursing care centre for older people has just opened at the Whiteley Village retirement community in Walton on Thames, Surrey – the provider of 25% of the specialist social housing for older people in the borough of Elmbridge. Named after the first resident to move to the village when it opened in 1917, the 30-suite Eliza Palmer Hub is among the most innovative care facilities in the UK, blending clinical support with a major emphasis on social interaction amongst the whole village community.

Prominently positioned at the heart of the village, the distinctive octagonal building features the stylish conservatory-style Lantern Café as a social hub for all residents, as well as a hair salon, therapy and consulting rooms and 30 studios for residents needing higher levels of support. Led by residents, Whiteley Village is active in recognising loneliness and taking action to support each other – and this was a pivotal consideration in deciding to locate the key social facilities of the village at the Eliza Palmer Hub, encouraging greater interaction between those residents living independently in the village and those who need more care.

Designed by Levitt Bernstein and Francis Roberts Architects, the residential facilities of the two–storey building challenge the traditional nursing home model. A central, communal open-plan kitchen and living area is the focal point on each floor, with adjacent bedrooms enabling a sense of connection that is lacking in many nursing homes as Chandra McGowan, Chief Executive, The Whiteley Homes Trust, explains. “Our ethos is that life is for living so that, even if your health or mobility is restricted, it doesn’t mean you can’t engage with the normal rhythms of the day going on around you. Just as the kitchen is the heart of every home, the design makes interaction around food as easy and normal as possible.

“Many memories are evoked by the different senses associated with mealtimes and staying connected to a sense of home makes all the difference to quality of life. The sad reality for many UK nursing home residents is that their world is overly confined to their bedroom, whereas our approach is to create spaces and interaction where friendships can flourish.

“Respect for the individual is central to our personalised care strategy. At the heart of this is the understanding that our residents have lived their lives, usually in a mutually supportive “family” unit, until the point of acknowledging a need for more help. We are determined to enable them to continue doing as much as possible for themselves – and for others. Where our residents have the capacity and desire to take control over their lives, we will do everything we can to help them maintain their own independence as well as providing opportunities for them to contribute. This reflects the wider ethos of the village and why the Hub is so key to enhancing opportunities for mutual support within our community.“ This approach is also reflected in the landscape. A new courtyard in the heart of the care centre offers private and sheltered external space with plant beds to encourage residents to get outdoors.

Irene Craik, Director at Levitt Bernstein, said: “The Eliza Palmer Hub demonstrates the importance of putting people at the heart of the home; and the home at the heart of the community. We are proud to have helped deliver the Trust’s unique vision, designing the next generation of facilities and homes for Whiteley Village that are fit for the next 100 years, knowing they will make a real difference to the quality of life of the residents.”

Dominic Roberts of Francis Roberts Architects said: “The Whiteley Homes Trust has shown a great commitment to quality of materials and design, allowing us to create a carefully crafted and intricate building that responds to the patterns and forms of the historic village.”

The Eliza Palmer Hub was facilitated with loan funding from ethical banks Unity Trust Bank and Triodos Bank and was constructed by Castleoak, design and build specialists to the care sector.

The opening event was made extra special as our oldest resident, Freda Hodgson was celebrating her 106th birthday – seen here with the Lord Lieutenant, his wife and Trust CEO Chandra McGowan

Media enquiries:

Notes to editors
Whiteley Village is owned by Whiteley Homes Trust, a charity providing affordable housing for over 400 pensioners of limited financial means. The majority live in almshouses or extra care apartments, with their rent funded through Housing Benefits and social services for care costs. Set in 225 acres of parkland, the village was created in 1917 at the behest of the philanthropist William Whiteley who left £1million in his will to create a dedicated community for the ‘elderly poor.’

About Levitt Bernstein
Levitt Bernstein is a practice of architects, urban designers and landscape architects with over 120 staff working from design studios in London and Manchester. We believe that good design can transform lives and apply this principle to our housing, education, health, arts and commercial projects of all shapes and sizes across the country. As well as designing new homes, we set standards and shape opinion within the sector. Last year we published ‘Age Friendly Housing: Future Design for Older People’, and we regularly contribute to other books, papers, guidelines and reports, including HAPPI Reports 1 and 2.

About Francis Roberts Architects
Architects and conservation architects in Preston, Lancashire, Francis Roberts Architects work with private clients, landowners, trusts and community groups on new buildings, homes, historic building conversion and urban design. The practice has membership of the professional register of the Prince’s Foundation and specialises in the design of buildings in sensitive and historic locations.

Foundation Research

Thursday 29 August 2019

New study to examine the experiences of older people moving into retirement communities

How older people, including those with fewer financial resources, cope with the transition into retirement communities will be investigated in a study led by the University of Surrey and The Whiteley Foundation for Ageing Well, thanks to a £77,000 award from the Pargiter Trust.

During this unique study, researchers will work closely with residents living at Whiteley Village (in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey) to investigate the psychological, physical and social impact on older people moving into a retirement community. Researchers will ask residents to share their insights into their experiences of transitioning from their former homes into their new one.

Feedback from interviews combined with an extensive evaluation of previous studies will enable researchers to develop guidance for new retirement community residents, and for staff who support them.

Unlike previous studies in this field that have focused on retirement communities with higher levels of socio-economic resources, this study will examine specific issues for people with fewer financial resources who are particularly vulnerable to change of this kind.

Dr Kimberley Smith, Lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of Surrey, said: “Transitioning into a retirement community is a major life event. Some people can find the experience difficult, whereas others adapt easily.

“Through this study we want to learn more about people’s experiences, both positive and negative, of entering retirement communities and moving within them so that we can aid older people to transition smoothly.”

Andrew King, Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender at the University of Surrey, said: “It is important for us to understand why transitioning into a retirement community can be a difficult experience for some older people, when retirement communities can offer a sense of belonging and support and access to round the clock care. Helping an older person to successfully transition into a retirement community is important to alleviate stress and feelings of uncertainty in making such a life change and unlock the positive benefits of moving into a supported community environment.”

Dr Alison Armstrong, Director at The Whiteley Foundation for Ageing Well said, “There are many transitions people can make in their retirement, including moving into a community such as Whiteley Village, or to being widowed, or to housing where more care is provided. Many people making these transitions do so without long-term negative impacts on their health and well-being. But many also find them hugely disruptive and find it difficult to settle. We want to know more about the social and psychological processes people go through, so that they can be better prepared and staff can support them as effectively as possible.”

Sue Gardiner from The Pargiter Trust said, “Vastly improved life expectancy, one of the great triumphs of the last century, looks set to be one of great challenges of the future with specific reference to how we continue to support older people to enjoy a better quality of life. Retirement communities form part of this supportive network for older people. This study will help us understand how we can better prepare and support individuals making this significant life change.”

For any further enquiries please contact:

University of Surrey:
Natasha Meredith (

Enquiries for The Whiteley Foundation for Ageing Well:
Dr Alison Armstrong (

Enquiries for The Pargiter Trust:
Suzanne Gardiner (

Whiteley welcomes new Trustees

Wednesday 28 August 2019

The Whiteley Homes Trust welcomes new Trustees

The Whiteley Homes Trust is delighted to announce the names of its six new Trustees:

  • Melbourne Barratt: Chief Executive, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council
  • Michael Berry: Director of Estates, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Tom Hoskin: Managing Director, Group Media Relations, Barclays
  • Melanie Lindsay: Partner, Vici Partners
  • Fiona McAnena: Partner, Clearhound
  • Liz Peace, CBE: Chair of the Shadow Sponsor Board for the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Project (amongst other senior non-executive roles)

Chandra McGowan, Chief Executive of the Trust said: “We were very pleased to have attracted such a prestigious and talented group of individuals to join our Board, which is now led by our new Chair, Rod Bennion OBE, who joined us earlier this year. Together with our existing Trustees, their skills, judgement and expertise will be hugely valuable as we plan the way forward for our historic Village and work to secure a successful future”.

Further information about the Chair and Trustees of the Whiteley Homes Trust can be found here.

University approves Trust as training facility

Thursday 25 July 2019

Whiteley welcomes student nurse
following university approval as a training facility

Student Nurse Catherine Bangoura with her friend, resident Sheila Brewer

The care team at Whiteley Homes Trust were delighted to welcome first year student nurse, Catherine Bangoura from the University of Surrey recently after the Trust was approved as a training facility for mentoring the university’s student nurses.

Catherine’s eight week placement is based at the Eliza Palmer Hub, the Village’s brand new care home, where supported by her mentor, Registered Nurse Ellen Collins, she is working alongside other nursing and care staff to look after its 30 residents. Catherine said: “The Hub is such a caring place and I’m really enjoying working here. I’m so grateful to my mentor and to all my colleagues for their advice and support.

“Whiteley is my second placement this year. My first was in a hospital and although I learned a lot, it was difficult to spend any quality time with patients. Although it’s very busy working here too, I do have the opportunity to get to know residents as individuals and develop a better understanding of their personal needs.”

One resident Catherine has become especially close to is Sheila Brewer, ”It’s important to me to make a difference, and I’m so happy to have been able to develop a special bond with Sheila”, said Catherine. “She’s always pleased to see me and that really makes my day, and I’d love to come back to work at Whiteley Village if there was a job available in the future!”

Ellen Collins said: “It has been a pleasure to mentor Catherine and I am sure she has appreciated the unfettered opportunity to observe, learn and develop and also enjoy time getting to know our residents. I am pleased she has recognised the importance of providing person-centred care and shows a natural affinity for caring for people holistically too. I hope Catherine preserves this passion as her training continues over the next two years and her clinical knowledge and skills develop. I wish her success with the rest of her nursing studies.”

The Trust’s approval as a recognised mentor by the University’s School of Health Sciences, not only benefits the organisation as an employer, but is also important for the wider care sector, say senior nursing staff at Whiteley.

Ethna Mertens, Clinical Governance & Safeguarding Lead at the Trust said: “These placements give us a valuable opportunity to showcase our *award-winning practice in older people’s care here at Whiteley Village, but also help us tackle misperceptions. Nurses can be reluctant to work in care homes when they qualify because many wrongly believe it offers a more limited opportunity to use their clinical skills, in comparison to a hospital.

“Catherine’s experience – and I hope that of the student nurses who follow her, will help us to change perceptions about nursing in care homes for the better and to highlight the broader range of experience and personal satisfaction this environment can offer. I was very pleased to hear Catherine would like to come back and work for us once she’s qualified – you can’t get a better recommendation than that!”

*The Whiteley Homes Trust won 2018 Platinum Award for the 4th year running from the National Gold Standards Framework Centre.

May the Force be with you!

Monday 22 July 2019

May the Force be with you!

Volunteers from our local Neighbourhood Policing Team

The Trust is very grateful to have such a committed and diverse group of volunteers including residents and members of our local community. Our Volunteering Team has also been delighted at the growing interest from local organisations and companies in supporting our charity – with three sending teams of staff to work on various projects in the Village during July, including 35 officers from Surrey Police.

In mid-July a group visited from local company SHL (here in the green t-shirts) whose staff helped to give residents’ new sheds their first coat of paint. Last week staff from Surrey County Council’s Adult Social Services Team visited to help the Village Fayre Committee set up for Saturday’s Fayre and at the end of the week, we also welcomed officers from Runnymede, Spelthorne and Elmbridge Neighbourhood Policing Team, who worked on various projects and then spent time meeting and getting to know some of our residents.

Volunteer Coordinator, Laura Cole said: “Following the closure of our nursing home, Whiteley House, there was a lot of old and unwanted equipment that had to be removed and so during the morning the officers helped to remove a lot of this into an enormous skip.

“Despite the drizzly weather, the volunteers didn’t let the rain get in the way of hard work and groups worked to paint residents’ sheds and to weed, trim and plant flowers in the Village Remembrance Garden. The sun finally showed up in the afternoon and groups of volunteers were then able to enjoy games of golf, putting and bowls with our residents and share a well-earned lunch!

“We are hugely grateful to all the organisations and individuals who support us by giving their time, energy and enthusiasm. It really makes all the difference to our residents and to our charity.”

If you, or your company would like to explore how you could support the work of The Whiteley Homes Trust by volunteering at Whiteley Village, please contact our Volunteering Team at or call 01932 825847.

“Volunteering is good for the soul!”

Friday, 7 June 2019

“Volunteering is good for the soul!”

So said one of our fantastic volunteers who we’ve been celebrating during National Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June). She went on to explain, “If you’ve ever helped someone in the smallest of ways, even crossing the street, then you’ll know the feeling. Whiteley Village is a lovely, unique place where you really do feel a sense of community spirit.”

Whiteley is fortunate to have 174 registered volunteers – a number which is expected to grow further once the Eliza Palmer Hub (an exciting new care facility with stunning public café and gardens) opens at the end of July.

Most volunteers are residents themselves but almost 40% come from the local community and The Whiteley Homes Trust (the charity which manages the Village), works with local schools and colleges as well as businesses – often through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.

Volunteer coordinator Laura Cole said: “We welcome volunteers with any skills and any amount of time to spare. We have developed some exciting intergenerational work between our residents and local children and young people, and our CSR projects are really appreciated by villagers and staff alike – for example recently when a team from the insurance company AXA worked with our Estates’ Team to transform an overgrown garden.”

Volunteers support a huge variety of activities, events and projects including the Befriending Scheme which helps residents who might otherwise be lonely or isolated. One community volunteer said: “I have made a close friendship with the lady that I visit and send her postcards when we travel which I know she enjoys receiving. Very small but I love sending them as much as she likes receiving them. Volunteering is now so much part of my life I can’t really imagine not doing it!”

These everyday heroes work alongside our staff to make a real difference to life at Whiteley – and it’s great to know the benefits can be mutual! If you would like to support The Whiteley Homes Trust charity as a volunteer or through your company’s CSR programme, please get in touch with Laura Cole, Volunteer Coordinator by email or by calling 01932 825847.

D-Day 75

Thursday, 6 June 2019

D-Day 75

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, also known as D-Day which took place on 6th June 1944. Read war veteran and Whiteley resident, Roy Lavender’s story in this month’s Whiteley Villager magazine with his memories of the intense fighting in Normandy after D-Day.

Donation will be a lasting legacy

Monday, 15 April 2019

Donation will be a lasting legacy

A generous donation from the Friends of Weybridge Hospital to support an exciting new care facility being built by the Whiteley Homes Trust will have a significant and lasting impact on improving the health and well-being of the charity’s residents and create a tranquil and welcoming garden for everyone to enjoy, the Trust has said.

The Trust which owns and manages Whiteley Village, was delighted to be chosen as the sole beneficiary of the Friends of Weybridge Hospital (FoWH) fund, when its committee members decided to dissolve the organisation.

The donation was made in two parts; £100,000 in May 2018 and £19,267 in March 2019. It will not only contribute towards facilities in the 30-bed ‘Eliza Palmer Hub’ but will also fund the design and planting of its centrepiece `Oasis` contemplation garden, which villagers will be encouraged to help look after, and the Trust hopes will become a special place for residents and visitors to meet and relax in, when the Hub opens later this year.

Chandra McGowan, Chief Executive of the Trust said: “We are extremely grateful to FoWH for their generous support. Weybridge Hospital and its former staff and Trustees had a proud history of caring for those in their local community and we are honoured to have been chosen as a custodian of that legacy.

“The therapeutic benefits of visiting and helping cultivate a garden are well known and we were delighted that Mary Jenner, one of the committee members of FoWH, agreed to join the judging panel that chose `Oasis’ as the garden’s name earlier this year from the various suggestions submitted by villagers and staff.

“Right from the beginning, we were committed to ensuring the Hub and its facilities embodied excellence not just in the delivery of care but also in the promotion of well-being and a thriving community. This donation will help us grow these ambitions for Whiteley Village – and a beautiful place for us all to enjoy.”

David Brown, Chair of FoWH said: “We, the Friends of Weybridge Hospital were very pleased to identify this opportunity to invest in this excellent facility, which will be available to the people of Weybridge.”

The £10.5m Eliza Palmer Hub is due to open later this year with 30 extra-large care suites, therapy facilities, an octagonal glass public café and a centrepiece contemplation garden. The Hub is integral to the Trust’s strategy to revolutionise how it provides care in the community.

Author: Andrea da Gama