A Day in the Life
Tracey Apps is the House Manager at Abbeyfield House, Tunbridge Wells. We caught up with her to find out more about her role.
I’m Tracey and I have 2 children and a golden Labrador named Betsy. I live in Bexhill, on the South coast, and commute to Tunbridge Wells. It’s a long way but I enjoy my job. Before Abbeyfield, I had a variety of roles.
I’ve been here for several years now. I’ve been at Cadogan Gardens for four years, and have also covered at Beamsley House in Eastbourne, and had spells working and helping at Abbeyfield House Alfriston and Holdenhurst in Heathfield. I get around!
Before Abbeyfield, I worked in a department store for 8 years, and was a traffic warden for 5 years. I also taught myself floristry and made commissions for weddings and Christmas displays.
I was starting my floristry business and wanted some extra funds while starting out. My husband spotted an advert for a Cook position in Tunbridge Wells, which was here at Abbeyfield. I have a love of cooking so thought ‘why not’ – and here we are! I do also have an NVQ in Professional Cookery.
Over time with Abbeyfield, I’ve moved from part-time Cook to full-time House Manager, so my floristry has taken a bit of a back seat now. I think you know quickly if you love the job, and luckily for me, I do.
In fact, it's a family affair now - my 17-year-old son Jordan is bank staff at Tunbridge Wells and my husband helps with painting & decorating when needed too!
Everything!! There's organising dinners for the tenants, including menus, meal planning and food shopping, to admin tasks such as rotas and timesheets. I also arrange and conduct viewings with potential tenants and organise tenancy agreements. But no two days are the same! I also organise maintenance and decoration, and sometimes end up getting more involved – you must be able to roll your sleeves up.
First thing, one of our tenants comes down for breakfast in the dining room at 8.45am. Other tenants like to have theirs in their rooms, it’s completely up to the individual. That gives us a chance to clear the dining room and ensure it’s set up for the day ahead. We have a coffee morning each day at 11am so we see most of the tenants then, as they come down to chat and socialise.
Some days I still help with the cooking and preparing lunch, which are always hot, homemade meals, and cover for any team members who are on leave. After lunch, it’s usually quiet so I dive into the office to catch up on administration tasks.
The role is just so different! Different every day, and different to what I’ve done before. I love the variety and helping people every day, it’s so rewarding. Making a difference to someone in a later stage of life is wonderful.
The role is just so different! Different every day, and different to what I’ve done before. I love the variety and helping people every day, it’s so rewarding. Making a difference to someone in a later stage of life is magical, for instance, today we talked a tenant through manoeuvring himself, whereas if he was on his own, he would have been stuck.
We have a few tenants in their 90s so life stories are always interesting!
I often feel torn trying to do everything at once – or rather, not being able to. For example, if I’m on Cook duties I can’t help with other household matters until Lunch Service is over, but I feel terrible not being able to help there and then. So, time management can be challenging.
Also, dealing with loss is hard, or when people move on into care. We do feel like an extended family here. If I get a phone call on my day off, I’m like, “What now?!”, but you wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s not just a job, it’s part of your life.
Haha, having the heating off! We keep everyone warm in the cold months, but for me rushing around I get so hot. It’s great now we can turn it off!
Abbeyfield Week coincides with Loneliness Awareness Week (12th-18th June), a campaign run by The Marmalade Trust to encourage conversations about loneliness.
At Abbeyfield South Downs, we encourage positive ways to address the issue of loneliness amongst older people. From sociable homecooked mealtimes to coffee mornings and chair exercise, we offer opportunities for our tenants to remain connected, both with each other and with other organisations in our local communities.
We are open to new residents! Are you thinking about making a move into one of our houses? Our friendly team are on hand to support you every step of the way.
We currently have places at Abbeyfield House in Tunbridge Wells, Kent