By Leon A Smith
February 15, 2011
Until I visited Beijing and Shanghai last year I was always under the impression that London was a large city – I now know that it is not! I say this, of course, in relative terms. London is a very large city compared to Paris, Rome or Brighton. But put alongside the cities referred to above or alongside Cairo or Mexico City or Rio de Janeiro, it is not.
What is the relevance of this statement? At the risk of alienating the vast majority of the Jewish community in London, I say this because there is a perception amongst many friends and community members living in North West London that the journey to Clapham, where Nightingale is situated, is akin to a journey to Lands End!
Nightingale is situated in Clapham SW12 and has been for 100 years when its then benefactor/philanthropist Lord Wandsworth donated a splendid house to the Charity in order to facilitate it moving out of the confines of the East End. During the past 100 years the Charity has extended its complex – built and re-built and refurbished to make Nightingale the amazing community that it is today. Served by two tube stations on the Northern Line (straight run through from Golders Green) and by two railway stations and excellent bus links, Nightingale really is easily accessible by public transport. And furthermore on a clear day and with a good wind it is a 30 minute drive from Central London and 40 minute drive from St John’s Wood.
Why is it therefore (and this is the alienation bit!) that so many of those living in North London have a ”provincial” outlook when it comes to Clapham? This of course is because of the physical and more important psychological barrier of the River Thames. Bournemouth and Brighton are south of the River Thames, yet many people are no strangers to these places. But Clapham - that’s in the wilds! I believe there is also a perception that not only of the distance to travel to South West London but also perhaps regarding its nature and environment. Nightingale is situated in the midst of leafy upmarket residential roads and in walking distance of two beautiful commons – Clapham and Wandsworth (that’s Clapham and Wandsworth – not Clapton and Wandsworth!)
Contrary to that which some believe there is also Jewish life South of the River! There are thriving Jewish communities in numerous parts of South London – albeit we do not have a Golders Green or a Stamford Hill.
Why is all of this important? It is important to me because when an older person is choosing a care home and/or when a relative is helping them to choose a care home, many criteria are taken into account. Research shows that location is an important criteria and of course it is. But surely within reason the overall and leading criteria must be quality of care and I am sure that most of us would feel (if we thought about this rationally) that quality of care and range of facilities far outweighs any inconvenience which any of us would make in accessing a home.
The average age of residents at Nightingale is 89. Ten residents are aged over 100 and the average stay is about 3 ½ years. We need to put this in context and realise that perhaps “location location” whilst being everything to an estate agent need not necessarily be so for us.