Calling Lee House, Home 

Dorothy Symonds, an 88-year-old resident of Lee House, a residential care home in Wimbledon, shares her journey of finding a home at Abbeyfield. From a distinguished career as a teacher to the serene and relaxing lifestyle she now enjoys at Lee House, her story severs as a testament to the impact of community and support during later life.

A Career in Teaching

“I was a teacher of English literature in a secondary for about 30 years and was given the position of head of department for some of them. When I was 55, I was put in charge of introducing the internet into the curriculum. I found it rather difficult to devise a plan of action on teaching the internet, something with which I wasn’t too familiar, and to put it into practice at quite a fast pace. I felt I didn’t want to be under that sort of pressure, so I opted for early retirement.”

Making the Move

“My flat in Wimbledon was my comfortable home for 17 years, but I unfortunately became very unsettled there due to the pandemic, and panic attacks became a regular problem. Although I liked the flat, there weren’t the services and facilities available that would have been useful for someone like me living alone. I felt like I needed some extra support.

“A friend suggested that I should approach Lee House to see if they could offer me some respite stay. She said I would feel better after some proper rest and have peace of mind, knowing that there was always someone around to look after me. I had heard of Abbeyfield, but I didn’t really know anything about it. I’m sure nobody wants to think about going into care, so I was a little scared when it came to it, and I didn’t want to leave my home – I never really considered moving on a permanent basis. However, I approached Lee House towards the end of 2022 for a week or two’s stay – and I never left! What I have gained has more than made up for anything I may have lost, and I can honestly say that, since moving in, my panic attacks are now firmly in my past.

“When I decided to make the move permanent, I was very lucky to have a friend who arranged to deliver everything I wanted to bring from my flat. All I had to do was unpack the boxes – which I still haven’t finished doing! I was fully encouraged to make my room my own, and it was nice to be able to put my photos up and keep my music collection and my books. I had to leave my computer behind as there wasn’t space, but it was very ancient, and I’m planning on getting a tablet soon. Despite my initial dislike of computers and electronic devices, I appreciate that it would be challenging to get the most out of life without one today.”

"I truly feel at home here, and there is a special kind of togetherness."

Life at Lee House

“I enjoy that Lee House is tucked away, in contrast to my previous flat, which was in the town centre. It was imperative for me that I felt safe and secure, especially in the wake of the panic attacks I had beforehand. It is very peaceful here, with no traffic noise, and when I first walked in the door there was a lovely, clean smell. First impressions are so important, and I immediately knew that it was the place for me.

“Living here has had a huge impact on my life, and I don’t regret my decision at all. The most obvious benefits are that everything is done for you (cooking, cleaning, laundry, and so on) and I never get bored. I remain free to indulge my favourite hobby, which is reading. I can never have too many books and I really need to get another bookcase to accommodate them all! Since I moved in, I met an older resident who introduced me to detective novels, which I had not really tried before – but I absolutely love them now. They are somewhat of a novelty and make a nice and refreshing change from the classics I am used to from my teaching days – though I still enjoy them too.

“There are plenty of other organised activities here to get involved in as well, and I try to get to most of them in order to just have a chat with the other residents, even if the activity itself isn’t one of my favourites. I do enjoy the quizzes though, also the physical fitness classes and the entertainers and singers who come in.

“We also mark the special occasions. I’m not really a ‘Christmas person’, but it is nice to have the companionship that Lee House gives you, particularly at that time of year. The staff went to great lengths to get us in a festive mood. There was also a brilliant fête last summer, and we had a bar with proper booze!”

Discover Lee House

Lee House is a care home situated in the idyllic Wimbledon village, where there is something for everyone. We are a five-minute walk from the quaint village centre where you’ll discover an array of chic shops, cafes and bars, as well as a selection of restaurants from around the world.

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Discover Lee House Image
Discover Lee House Image

Community, Outings & New Friends

“I also particularly enjoy the outings. Recently a few of us were taken out to the local Marks & Spencer. It was a long time since I had been in a department store, so I really relished the opportunity to go. It didn’t matter that I didn’t buy anything; just going out and being taken care of was wonderful. I’m a tennis fan, and we’ve also been on a tour of the Wimbledon grounds, which was fascinating. I like getting out and about, and I do have the freedom here to go into the village when I want, but I find it a struggle sometimes, so it is nice to be taken somewhere by someone else occasionally.

“I have met some fascinating people here, and I’ve made a couple of very good friends. Lee House is a unique sort of place, and the staff are brilliant. They ensure that you feel at home, well looked-after and are enjoying life here. There’s less of a focus on getting old, and the general atmosphere helps to keep you in a positive frame of mind and focus on what you can do and what you want to do.”

A Home-from-Home at Abbeyfield

“Moving to Lee House has worked out extremely well for me. It’s important for me to be in a ‘homely’ space, and that feeling is helped by the fact that I got to stay in the area I know. The relatively small number of beds makes it just the right size for me as well. I truly feel at home here, and there is a special kind of togetherness. We are a real community in and of ourselves, and that is something I really like. If anyone was in the position that they felt they needed to look at Lee House as a place to spend their later years, I’d tell them they would be a fool to miss it.”


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