Nurses take trip down memory lane to celebrate the future of Retired Nurses National Home

Nurses in Bournemouth took a trip down memory lane today, Wednesday 25 March, to celebrate a new chapter in the history of the Retired Nurses National Home (RNNH) in Riverside Avenue, as it is taken over by  Friends of the Elderly, later this month.

Nurses past and present, and their families and friends, gathered at the RNNH to share memories, photographs and artefacts. The home also invited people in Bournemouth, including other retired nurses, to come along and share their experiences.

Eamon Toman, interim Chief Executive of the RNNH, said:
The RNNH was set up to take care of nurses after they retired as many had small pensions and often no property of their own after a lifetime of caring for others. Now over 75 years later we want to celebrate the past and look forward to the future as Friends of the Elderly take over the running of the home and develop it to help a greater number of older people. Both charities share the same values and expertise and we will work together to ensure the transfer causes the least disruption and concern for residents and staff.

Although retired, many of the residents still keep up to date with nursing through monthly meetings with guest lecturers. The RNNH also has links with Bournemouth University with residents providing feedback on a new course called Caring for Older People. The RNNH, with the University’s support, is also bidding for a Heritage Lottery Fund, to record the nurses’ stories and showcase their nursing memorabilia.

Professor Gail Thomas, Dean of Health and Social Sciences at Bournemouth University, as well as a nurse and midwife, said:
The relationship we have with the RNNH is very positive and we hope to continue to work together in the future under the new management. We have been involved in the ‘Memories of Nursing’ project over the past few years and hope that the Heritage Lottery Funding will help us to preserve more of these highly experienced nurses’ experiences. Personally I have been socially visiting some of the residents over the past seven years and always find it so interesting to hear about nursing and midwifery practice in years gone by. It is important that we share these with the new generation of nurses and midwives to enhance their learning.”

Friends of the Elderly will take over the management of the home later this month.

Steve Allen, Chief Executive of Friends of the Elderly, said:
We are very pleased and honoured that the RNNH has chosen us to manage and develop the home for the future. We will work very closely with the RNNH to ensure the move is smooth for everyone involved and that the home continues providing quality care for residents, as well as preserving its rich heritage. This is an exciting move for Friends of the Elderly as we will be operating in the South West for the first time, managing a home with important historical links in Bournemouth.”

The idea of opening a home for elderly nurses in Bournemouth came in 1929 when a nurse called Miss Fanny Thompson received a letter from an elderly nurse who was struggling financially after retirement. The RNNH opened in 1938 with support from the then Bournemouth Town Council, the Countess of Malmesbury and the Queen Mother.

The RNNH is now a Residential Home for 52 residents, including nurses and other older people needing assistance and care and also has 10 flats for independent living.

More information about the service will be available on our website soon.