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From its early days in the 50s when founder Richard Carr Gomm established Abbeyfield sheltered housing in Bermondsey, South London, the movement has grown in size, scope and outreach. It now boasts wonderful care homes, specialist dementia care faciities and retirement villages across the UK. Abbeyfield also has a worldwide presence – for instance in Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. And now the word has reached China!

Against this backdrop, Grace Muriel House was asked to host a visit of Care Home Directors from China who were on a European study tour. It emerges that China have some very large state run homes for their elderly (as many as 600 beds!), but lack the smaller community based facilities that we have with Abbeyfield in the UK. They were keen to see what we had to offer in St Albans.

On a beautiful sunny March day the delegates arrived to be greeted by Chairman Keith Faulkner, Trustees Richard Seaman and Derek Farr. They heard about Abbeyfield - its origins and ethos, the history and workings of Grace Muriel House and our plans for the future. They enjoyed an escorted tour of the facilities and the gardens, and met residents in the lounge.

We were proud to show them our new en-suite conversions in three of the rooms. They will shortly be occupied.

Key to the success of the visit was interpreter Xiu without whom we would have relied entirely on our skills at 'charades' to communicate with our guests!

Many thanks to Deputy Manager Gina, Office Administrators Frances and Claire, and not least the residents for making everyone so welcome.

The visit had been requested by Alfred T Hoffmann, a leading Gerontologist based in Germany. He works as an advisor to the Chinese government. Alfred is a long standing admirer and friend of Abbeyfield, having himself set up and operated 'Abbeyfield Deutschland' between 2005 and 2011.

Click on the photo for more pictures.