When Ann Rowe came to live at Nightingale House four years ago, she could not walk, or even stand, without assistance.
But with the support of staff at the South London home — particularly physio Michael Stokes — she has found the confidence to take on new physical challenges.
The 87-year-old shared her story with more than 500 Nightingale Hammerson supporters at the charity’s annual dinner at London’s Guildhall on Monday, which raised £1.25 million.
Miss Rowe said her experience proved that becoming a Nightingale resident was not the beginning of the end, rather the beginning of a new and enriched life.
Charity chair Melvin Lawson said its person-centred care and “exceptional staff and volunteers” placed it in the top three per cent of care homes, based on Care Quality Commission ratings. Ten per cent of residents were 100 or over and “it is our honour to bring light to every person in our care”.
That care would be extended with the £36 million redevelopment of its Hammerson property in North London.
Nightingale’s profile had been raised by the opening of a branch of the Apples and Honey Nursery on its Clapham site. “When you look out of the window and see children and residents walking up the garden holding hands, your heart just melts.”
The need for financial support from the community was stressed by charity president Harvey Rosenblatt, who said “the inability of government and local authorities to fund the needs of the old and vulnerable presents us with increased demand and responsibility”.
Providing quality care “is staggeringly costly” and Nightingale faced “the daunting task of funding every local authority-sponsored resident to the tune of approximately £600 a week — and this situation is worsening.”
Residents with dementia, “a brutal and unforgiving condition, must be afforded the maximum dignity and respect that an affluent and compassionate community can provide”.
It was imperative for Nightingale to build on its donor base by bringing further partners, patrons and benefactors on board.
The dinner was compered by broadcaster Natsaha Kaplinsky, who said she had been hugely impressed by the “wrap-around care” she had witnessed on a recent visit to Nightingale.
She also interviewed Lord Grade, the former BBC chair and now chair of the Fundraising Regulator, who said: “People talk about lack of community in life today. But the Jewish community is stronger than ever. We survive by helping people.
“We have a responsibility to the next generation. But we also have a responsibility to the past generation.”
He added that he had returned to theatre, his first love, and offered free tickets for Nightingale residents to a matinee of 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, which he is producing.