By Leon A Smith
December 17, 2010
A couple of weeks ago I installed in the lobby at Nightingale some wallpaper with a difference. Not wallpaper in The Lord Chancellor- £400 a roll sense! But nevertheless wallpaper with a difference. I can only really describe this by referring to it as “reminiscence wallpaper”. Basically it is a photo montage of various scenes from Whitechapel, Aldgate, and other East End landmarks from the 30’s. The reason that I installed this wallpaper (which did not cost £400 a roll) was for both aesthetic reasons and for reminiscence purposes.
Many of the residents at Nightingale will have lived in the East End of London and some of the scenes will be very familiar ones to them. At the same time it makes me think that it will not be too long before I need to put some reminiscence wallpaper up depicting scenes from Hendon, Golders Green and Stanmore!
When I first started working at Nightingale very many years ago, virtually all of the residents had lived in the East End with many or most having been born in Central or Eastern Europe. How things change! Today more and more of our residents have not lived in the East End but would have lived in various other parts of London.
We also have a very nice reminiscence area which is furnished loosely in the 40s style and again in due course this is going to need to be updated to the 50s or 60s. Perhaps we could install an avocado bathroom suite, knitted toilet roll covers and photographs of The Beatles or the Stones. For someone born in 1950, I am part of that not very exclusive club – the “baby boom generation”. But it’s not going to be long now before all of these “club” members are themselves going to start to need an increasing level of support. There is going to be a considerable peak as this generation becomes “old” and finds itself needing the services and support of the community. We’re not quite there yet, but in say 10 years time there will be a very large number of people that will need to be supported.
Judging from current government policy and reductions in grants to local authorities, it would seem likely that the input from either central or local government is only going to diminish. We must all therefore be prepared for the fact that those in a position to do so are going to need to continue funding themselves into old age and for those who are not in a position to do so we are going to have to look to the community to continue to provide that o-so important safety net for those in need.