News at Cumnor Hill House in Oxfordshire


December Events at Cumnor Hill House
You’re in for a real treat this Christmas at Cumnor Hill House, as we have four fantastic events lined up for you all in December. We’re starting our countdown to Christmas with the one and only Gemma Louise Doyle, who is a firm favourite here in our home. The following week, we’ll be welcoming Miki Travis through our doors to perform magic tricks and more – Miki always has everyone smiling and laughing. On 20th December, we’re holding a Christmas Special Extended Evening to get us all feeling festive, then we’re rounding off the month with a night with Dave Dean, who will be singing Big Band hits for us all to sing and dance along to.

As always, our events are completely free of charge and include refreshments too. We really hope to see you in our home this December – the more, the merrier! To RSVP to any of our events this coming month, please email or call us on 01865 415 185.

Lift the Lid on Sex, Intimacy and Relationships
A while back, we were delighted to be approached by the Innovation Team at Alzheimer’s Society to take part in a completely new concept aimed to lift the lid on sex, intimacy and relationships. And we’re so glad we said yes as it has completely changed how we think.

What is it all about?

As its name suggests, ‘Lift the Lid’ aims to break taboo, with the needs and rights to sex, intimacy and relationships too often overlooked in the lives of people living in care homes. To do this, Alzheimer’s Society created a pioneering workshop in a box for care teams to use to get talking about the topic – and to encourage them to do something about it. At Cumnor Hill House, we did.

Where did the idea come from?

The innovation was jointly designed with input from a wide range of stakeholders, then prototyped and product-tested by care home teams across the sector, including us. We worked alongside Alzheimer’s Society, the National Dementia Care Awards 2018, Good Innovation, Bupa, Shinfield View and other care providers and research groups to trial this significant change in dementia care.

What does it involve?

Well, sex and intimacy in care homes is often seen as behaviour to be managed, rather than a human need with rights to be respected and supported. ‘Lift the Lid’ looks at how care home staff can become better-equipped and better supported in this area, enabling them to offer better support to residents and their partners when it comes to their relationship needs.

‘Lift the Lid’ involves audience-led innovative sprints that gather knowledge, actionable insights and creative solutions that are prototyped, adapted and widely adopted. The shared outcomes and process can then be used to help us to meet the needs of people affected by dementia.

The workshop for ‘Lift the Lid’ has been built on an innovation model to help improve dementia care, following a Learn, Investigate, Find and Experiment model, known as LIFE.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s workshop in a box includes all the tools needed for care homes to run their own creative workshop, which is exactly what we did at Cumnor Hill House. Its aim is to encourage staff to challenge perceptions around sex, intimate relationships and people affected by dementia, and to provide a framework for respectful management of in-the-moment situations. It also helps to align a shared set of values and actions for each care home involved.

‘Lift the Lid’ in our home

Louise Axtell, Home Manager here at Cumnor Hill House, said: ‘We’re proud to have been chosen as one of just a handful of care homes in the country to trial this innovative approach, and it was great to be part of such a pioneering project. It’s all about dignified care, and an understanding of intimacy and relationships are now an integral part of our care; the team here now has the understanding, ability and confidence to respond in an appropriate, respectful manner, not reacting out of embarrassment and fear.

Romance, sex and intimacy aren’t out of bounds in our home, as people may think they are. Your husband is still your husband, your wife is still your wife, and just because they’ve moved into our home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have that same intimate relationship you always have done. Lift the Lid has opened our eyes and for that, we’re grateful.’

Please feel free to speak to a member of the team to find out more about 'Lift the Lid'.

November Events
With five Thursdays in November, that’s a whole lot of fun to look forward to at Cumnor Hill House – will you be joining us for one or more of our entertainment evenings? We've arranged a wide variety of fantastic events for this coming month, so our residents and guests are in for a real treat. It all starts off with fancy dress, so please get your glad rags on and get involved, as it’s sure to be great fun.

To RSVP to any of our five events this coming month, please email or call us on 01865 415 185. And remember, all our entertainment is completely free of charge, and our refreshments are too!

Meet Dorothy, our new Personal Trainer at Cumnor Hill House
Earlier this year, we became one of just a few care homes in the country to feature its very own gym, and on 1st June, it officially opened to the public. The Cumnor Hill House Gym was built with our residents’ health in mind, but by opening it up to the community completely free of charge, it has become a fantastic asset for the area and a facility we’re incredibly proud of.

As part of getting this specialist gym up and running, we recruited Dorothy, who is an adept personal trainer. Here’s an insight into what Dorothy does and how she helps our gym to run so smoothly.

How did you end up becoming a personal trainer?

I began personal training in 2011 when I realised that this was the perfect job for someone like me who is interested in people, fitness, and wellbeing. I discovered that helping people to plan and achieve levels of fitness and wellbeing that made them happier also made me happy!

Can you tell us a bit about your previous work experience and how that may help you in your new role?

I had various careers before becoming a personal trainer, including acting and modelling for Select Models UK, Latin America and Africa, and I also work as a make-up artist, sports masseuse, and development of expertise as a cardiac rehabilitation trainer, GP referral co-ordinator and nutritional adviser.

The key thread that runs through all of these is the way in which the human body can be helped to look or feel as good as possible. Sometimes this can be superficial, with modelling and make-up artistry being just surface changes. Of more interest to me now is how the inside of a person, and what they feel about themselves, can be related to how fit they are, especially as they grow older.

What would you say to locals considering using the gym?

Give us a try! We’ll do our best to make you feel welcome and, if you need it, we will help you to plan and achieve your fitness goals.

What made you want to come and work at Cumnor Hill House?

The variety of clients – both residents and other members of the local community – means that the work will be both challenging and rewarding. I look forward to helping both the young and young at heart to improve their fitness and, as a result, feel better about themselves.

What are you looking forward to most working at Cumnor Hill House?

I hope that I will see the residents and other members of the local community achieve goals beyond what they initially expected.

What will you be doing on a day-to-day basis?

My main focus, from day one, has been on working with residents on a one- to-one basis to personalise a programme that best meets each of their specific needs. There’s a whole lot more too, but I won’t bore you with the detail of the necessary administration that a gym needs to operate safely and effectively!

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

It sounds rather cheesy, but the most rewarding part of my job is seeing a client smile, even after I’ve worked them really hard! I feel a sense of achievement when someone I work with surpassed their own expectations.

How do you plan on working with other teams within the home?

There’s a careful screening process in place here at Cumnor Hill House, where I work with the medical staff to see which residents are well enough to exercise and at what level. From them on, every visit consists of speaking with nurses and carers to find out about any changes to the health of the residents that may affect their exercise plans, such as a change of medication or low energy levels.

I would like to monitor our residents’ eating habits and activity levels too, so I will be working closely with the events team and kitchen staff. We can look at ways to improve, share ideas and support each other, so that each resident can get the most out of each day.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

After spending most of my adult life engaged in individual and team sports, I realised that the key to a happy, healthy body and mind is an enjoyable whole-body workout combined with good nutrition. Five years ago, I decided to turn my personal interests into my career, becoming a PT, nutritional advisor and GP referral.

I feel truly blessed to have a career in which I make a genuine difference in people’s lives, whether it be helping people meet their fitness and weight goals or rehabilitating those recovering from injury or serious medical conditions such as depression, stroke or arthritis.

It is my passion to educate, empower and encourage my clients through each PT session by providing fun, enjoyable and rewarding exercise experiences that allow our bodies and minds to feel stronger – physically, emotionally and socially.

My motivation is my purest quality, I will go the extra mile and you will feel better after just one session! I hope to see you very soon at the Cumnor Hill House Gym.

October Events at Cumnor Hill House
We have four fantastic events in store for you this month, starting on Thursday 4th October with Cheryl King! Cheryl will be singing some of the old favourites as part of her Cockney Show - it's bound to be a night full of laughter and fun.

A week on Thursday, we're putting on Nelson's Irish Show, back by popular demand. This Irish-themed evening will not only have you singing along, but will get you up on your feet for a boogie as well. Don't forget your dancing shoes!

Following her fantastic performance at our Country and Western Party, Elkie is coming back to Cumnor Hill House on Thursday 18th October and will be putting on her Rock 'n' Roll show for us all to enjoy.

Last but not least, rounding off the month will be Anna McDonald with her party set on 25th, so get ready to be dazzled by her engaging performance and great vocals.

As always, our events are free of charge and include refreshments, too! If you would like to join us at one or more of our October events, please RSVP to or 01865 415 185 - we would love to see you there.

An action-packed day with ten tremendous teenagers
NCS is the National Citizen Service, and if you’ve never heard of it before then prepare to be impressed, as it’s a truly exciting government-funded scheme getting 15-17-year-olds out and about in the community. The aim of the scheme is to help those taking part to develop personal skills but at the same time, it benefits many more people too – including our residents!

A couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to play host to a group of 16-year-old members of NCS, and what an amazing time everyone here at Cumnor Hill House had. The ten teens got stuck in with everything going on in our home, including planting bulbs in the garden, painting and board games in the bar bistro, and they even arranged their own quiz!

Thank you to every single one of you, as our residents thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Why Cumnor Hill House?

Well, coming to see us was just one of many things this group of wonderful young people have been up to, but with an aim to target elderly isolation and mental health issues within the older community, the group chose Cumnor Hill House as the ideal home to visit in their local area. We’re incredibly grateful that they did as our residents had a fantastic time!

With 60 hours of social action to achieve that week, NCS had a big challenge ahead, and we were more than happy to help by opening our doors for the day – we would have been mad not to!

Get involved with NCS

To find out more about NCS and all that they do, visit and if you’re aged 15-17, get involved! Offering the chance to take on exhilarating challenges, make your mark and build skills for work and life, it offers a unique opportunity, and so far, more than 400,000 young people have already taken part and come together to accomplish amazing things.

From all of us here at Cumnor Hill House, thank you to NCS!

Spotlight on Charlie Jennings, our Beauty Therapist
The Lily Room Spa offers treatments for all our residents as part of their all-inclusive care, here to enhance mental health, relaxation, comfort and inner peace. Our residents absolutely love the Lily Room Spa as it gives them time to enjoy some R&R, so we thought it was about time we spoke to our star beauty therapist to find out a little more about the lady who makes the magic happen in the most relaxing room in Cumnor Hill House…

So, Charlie, what got you into beauty therapy?

Well, from an early age, I was always fascinated by the beauty and fashion industry, so after leaving school, I decided to pursue it! I studied wig-making, beauty therapy and hairdressing, but it was make-up artistry and beauty therapy that I was most passionate about, so I stuck with it. I spent two years working in a top-class Oxfordshire spa, building on my experience, and I’ve never looked back!

How did you get from there to where you are now?

I used to work as an in-flight beauty therapist for Virgin Atlantic Airways, which was incredible. It was my job to pamper the elite, and my clients included celebrities, musicians, Royals and other affluent individuals. My role included worldwide promotions, fashion shoots and regular TV and magazine work, so it really was the dream for me. After 14 years, I felt like it was time to spend some time back on land, so decided to find a job closer to home.

I then spent some time working as an assessor, trainer and beauty lecturer for Oxfordshire College, along with a great stint at ‘Six Senses’ elite worldwide spas, resorts and hotels, specialising in natural beauty. I absolutely love Thai massage and Reiki, and I’ve even travelled to Thailand for inspiration, training and qualification.

I now spend two days a week here at Cumnor Hill House and with the rest of my time, I run my own business, both from my home in Abingdon and as a mobile therapist, visiting private hospitals and luxury hotels.

What made you want to come and work at Cumnor Hill House?

Initially, I visited Cumnor Hill House as a guest on one of the famous entertainment evenings! I arrived with my elderly mother, who is a member of a local memory club; kindly, Cumnor Hill House regularly invite the group to come along and enjoy the entertainment.

My mum lit up when she spoke about this new and wonderful place – she was so happy, bright and full of chat, so I went along with her! I was instantly struck by the genuine warm welcome on arrival. Both staff and residents extended such kind hospitality and there was a real buzz, and such a happy and positive vibe! At Cumnor Hill House, nothing is ever too much and only the best is good enough. It was as close as I had come to experiencing such a high level of customer care and attention since leaving the airline industry.

Of course, I was intrigued! I introduced myself to management to thank them and find out more. It soon became apparent that a tranquil room named the Lily Room Spa existed and I knew in that very moment I could bring a first-class holistic and beauty service to Cumnor Hill House.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

It’s fantastic to see what a difference the beauty treatments make to our residents’ quality of life, as some time in the Lily Room Spa really does help them to relax and destress, and the health benefits are fantastic too. Indian Head Massages, for example, help to increase circulation and muscle tone, and improve immunity. Reflexology is great for residents with limited mobility or for when someone feels like their body needs a bit of an energy boost, and the traditional Japanese treatment, Reiki, reduces stress, aids relaxation and promotes healing. At Cumnor Hill House, we want to offer the best care possible, and that includes beauty therapy – after all, everyone deserves to feel special!

What’s your most popular treatment?

Throughout life, both ladies and gentlemen like to maintain a certain level of care when it comes to their appearance, as this is what keeps us feeling good both physically and mentally – it’s the feel-good factor! Therefore, each week I find myself extremely busy performing maintenance treatments such as manicures, eyebrow shapes, waxing and skin care etc., and alongside this, we have gentlemen’s grooming that includes our popular wet shave and scalp massage.

A huge variety of massage treatments are very popular too, along with facials and Reiki. There is never a quiet moment as everyone simply loves to be pampered, and for many residents, this is the first time they have EVER had a treatment in their life! It’s incredibly rewarding for me, to see someone who is usually anxious and confused completely relax, even if it’s just for a short while.

Often, the salon and spa are full of residents laughing and chatting whilst enjoying a treatment, complete with their favourite drinks and cream cakes with a side order of a relaxing massage. It seems like the perfect treat to me! Alternatively, one-to-one therapy with mellow music and the aroma of soothing aromatic oils fill the air. It’s so relaxing as there’s no rushing and no regimented appointment times, just a place to relax and enjoy a pamper session at your own pace!

What have you learnt from working at Cumnor Hill House?

I think the main thing I’ve learnt is how physically and spiritually uplifting holistic and beauty therapy treatments can be for all age groups. Even if an individual is living with dementia, they still seem to recognise me as the lady that does nice things – they may not recall my name, but they always recall this emotion!

It’s truly fantastic to see what a difference the beauty treatments available here make to our residents’ quality of life. Even seeing their faces light up as I walk into work makes me so happy and I now know that given time, a reluctant resident will soon become a regular client. It also makes our residents’ families feel good, seeing their loved ones looking good and taken care of – and as I’ve mentioned, the health benefits of treatments are huge.

I strongly believe in the power of touch, along with eye contact and a warm smile; everyone at Cumnor Hill house has these qualities, making it not only a place of care but a real home. Cumnor Hill House is where people come when they reach that point in life when they need a helping hand, but it doesn’t mean that they should stop living and loving life – they’re still free to experience the magic moments life has to offer as they would have done in their younger days, they just do it slightly differently. And here, the opportunities remain the same. I feel extremely proud to be part of this team and working for such an innovative, outstanding care home. Here, it’s all about health, happiness and wellbeing, which is what makes beauty therapy here so important and cherished.

Next time you pop in, why not say hello to Charlie and Denise, our fantastic hairdresser? We’re here to assist you and your family members with whatever you need or require, and a full treatment menu can be found on our Bistro tables and online.

If you have a friend or family member living here at Cumnor Hill House, make sure they’re making the most of our beauty therapy treatments – we’re one of just a handful of care homes in the UK to have an all-inclusive, in-house spa! We will always do our best and can take our services to a resident’s room if circumstances dictate. Nothing is too much trouble and it is our absolute pleasure to take care of you. We hope to see you very soon.

September Events at Cumnor Hill House
September’s set to be a brilliant month here at Cumnor Hill House, as we have some special acts coming into our home to entertain our residents, their friends and family members, along with members of the local community – the more, the merrier!

The coming month’s entertainment includes four fantastic events, ranging from Jon-Paul singing all your jukebox favourites, Simon ‘The Bubble Man’ here to put smiles on faces with his unique show, Steve Benson the magician and mentalist, and Jennifer Robb, who will be preforming great disco hits from decades gone by. With such a great mix of acts, we’re in for a real treat as we move into autumn.

All our Thursday evening events start at 6:45pm, and we offer a variety of freshly-prepared dishes by our chef, as well as refreshments. If you would like to come along, please RSVP to or 01865 415 185 – as always, everyone is welcome, and we hope to see you at one or more of our events.

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