Charles sings the praises of Nightingale

By Jessica Elgot, July 7, 2011
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Smile high club: The prince enjoys an exchange with resident Ruth Cooke as Harvey Rosenblatt looks on

Smile high club: The prince enjoys an exchange with resident Ruth Cooke as Harvey Rosenblatt looks on

Opening the Wohl Wing at Nightingale on Wednesday, the Prince of Wales was so impressed by the home's care for the elderly that he said he was "booking early to avoid disappointment".

The £6.5 million dementia care unit will take in 40 residents next month at the south London establishment. The design of the dementia wing is based on the latest research into the condition and is reflected in its colours, fabrics and signage.

In the company of chief executive Leon Smith and chairman Harvey Rosenblatt, the prince toured the new unit's sensory gardens, admiring reminiscence items such as a red phone box and a Morris Minor car. He also saw the "memory box" outside each resident's room, containing family photographs and other personal items.

At a reception for supporters, he said that visiting Nightingale - and attending the previous evening's Board of Deputies 250th anniversary reception - had been "an opportunity not only to pay tribute to the contribution of the Jewish community as a whole, but to highlight the remarkable philanthropy by members of the community. So many causes could not be sustained without such longstanding generosity." The prince had opened Nightingale 35 years ago.

Century makers ‘keep my ma busy writing telegrams’

He also met residents including Betty Malinsky, who recently turned 101. The prince was surprised to learn from Mr Rosenblatt that there are 10,000 people aged 100 or more living in the UK, 12 of them at Nightingale.

"My grandmother herself lived to 100," he said, "and I do miss her every day.

"But so many centenarians keeps my ma very busy writing telegrams."

Among other residents he chatted to was Betty Weinberg, who was chopping asparagus to make soup. "I told him how I make the soup and he said it smelt delicious, but he didn't think asparagus was in season." Dorothy Silverstone presented the prince with a hand-drawn picture of the Queen Mother. "He was a delightful chap, very easy-going and gentle," she said. "I'd like to try and draw him next."

Mr Rosenblatt was pleased to have shown the prince how Nightingale offered "a more purposeful and stimulating existence for our residents. We are determined to ensure our residents with dementia can still live life to the full."

    Last updated: 2:28pm, July 13 2011