Getting back to the salon at Downing House

Many residents have the desire to treat themselves to a bit of occasional pampering and, before the COVID-19 pandemic, a trip to the salon was a highlight of their week. For the past three years, however, the salon has been closed due to restrictions and used only as storage space, in an effort to keep both residents, staff and visitors safe. However, the lifting of restrictions last year encouraged the staff to think about redecorating the facility and making it available to residents once again.

Downing House Activities Coordinator, Rubina Hewitt, kick-started the campaign to refurbish the salon with a fundraising event to coincide with the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee last summer. She said, We raised the funds during our Jubilee party. It was a great event with a cake stall, tombola and raffle prizes. Residents, staff and relatives all came together to make the cakes, and donated the prizes. We had a fantastic turnout, raising just under £200 for the salon.

Downing House accommodates several residents living with dementia and they are encouraged to bring their own possessions, furniture and decorations when moving in, to make it feel more like home. It is important that all the rooms and facilities – including the salon – provide an enjoyable and familiar environment. A consultation with the residents revealed the desire for a 1950’s vintage theme for the salon, with a light shade on the walls to keep it nice and bright.

Image shows Dorothy Taylor, a resident of Downing House having her hair done.

“The name of the salon was chosen from a selection of name ideas that residents and staff wrote down and put in a jar,” said Rubina. “One resident then pulled a name out at random, and we had our name – Pin Curls Hair & Beauty Salon.”

Residents and staff have expressed their gratitude to Rubina for their new salon and have been enjoying getting together for a good pamper again. “I really enjoyed the refurbishment project,” said Rubina, “and it was so worth it to see all our residents’ happy faces once we opened.”

Resident Dorothy Taylor said, “I’m so pleased with how the salon has turned out. I adore the 1950’s pictures on the wall – that’s my favourite part.”

Rubina wants to encourage all residents to the pay a visit to salon, men and women alike. “We want the gentlemen at Downing House to know they can have a pamper day too,” she said, “and we have a few regulars who come along once a week. Every Wednesday is hair and beauty day, when we welcome Catherine, our mobile hairdresser. We also offer nail trimming for all and nail polish for the women, which I like to give them while we have a good old catch-up.”

Image shows some of the new 1950's decor at the newly refurbished salon. 

Downing House residents enjoy a varied programme of activities, three nutritious meals eaten together in the dining room every day, and access to a comfortable communal lounge, cinema room and beautifully landscaped, fully accessible garden. Daily chores are taken care of, while respite stays are also offered to those seeking support following post-operative or hospital care, while their regular caregiver takes a break, or as a way of introducing prospective residents to the idea of long-term residential care. The home also has a score of 8.9 on care home review website, For more information, please visit their property page.

Enjoyed this story?

Read more stories from Abbeyfield's houses and homes. 

Abbeyfield House plans to save lives in Alnwick Image

Abbeyfield House plans to save lives in Alnwick

A defibrillator has been installed at Abbeyfield House in Alnwick, after House Manager, Heather, identified the need for one in the east end of Alnwick.

Speedwell Court residents strut their stuff for charity fashion show Image

Speedwell Court residents strut their stuff for charity fashion show

Residents at Speedwell Court, a care home for older people in Southampton’s West End, took to the catwalk for a Fashion Fundraiser sponsored by Devernois.

International resident Grace's story Image

International resident Grace's story

Grace has been a resident at the Abbeyfield Society of South Africa for five and a half years. We find out all about the incredible talents she has, her volunteering position at Uyinene Mrwetyana and why she loves living at Abbeyfield.