Life at East Hill House in Liss is nothing short of an extension to family life for Housekeeper Ruby Booty.
Ruby was a shortlisted finalist in Caring Homes Group Recognition Awards and has worked at East Hill House for 30 years. She lives a minute away from the award-winning Hampshire home and Home Manager Charlene is her niece. But what has kept her here for 30 years and continues to keep her at East Hill House?
“East Hill House is a big part of my life,” said Ruby. “It’s a second home to me and I love every minute of my time here. I love being with the residents, going into their rooms, making sure all the rooms have been cleaned to a high standard and all the residents they are happy with everything.”
Ruby started at East Hill House as a domestic assistant. At the time the home was privately owned and her sister-in-law Barbara was manager.
“It had been a difficult time for our family as I lost both my parents within a year,” said Ruby, “My son was just starting school so it was a good time for me to get back to work. My sister in law was home manager here at the time, so my relationship with East Hill House began with a family connection.”
Liss village has changed a lot, said Ruby, but East Hill House has always been an important part of the community, you can see it for miles as it is on top of a hill, and that is one of the reasons she loves working there.
“We have an annual Summer fair and Christmas fair and numerous other events which involve the community. Local nursery and primary schools come up to visit us, the residents light up when the children are in, they love it, ” said Ruby.
Colleagues’ children, including two of her own four grandchildren, regularly spend time at the home during the holidays, reading and playing games with the residents. It’s a relationship which seems to benefit not only the residents at East Hill but also the children, some of whom may have little contact with the older generation.
As Housekeeper Ruby makes sure everything is tidy and clean in every room of the home and is in charge of a team of domestic assistants. Daily tasks can include getting a room ready for a resident coming in, getting a show room set up, making sure everything is clean and matching or carrying out deep cleaning when necessary.
“I have a walk around book and make sure I tour the home whenever I am in,” explained Ruby. “I make sure things have been done correctly and quickly. It’s not a telling off book but another pair of eyes making sure everything has been done to a high standard.
“I get fresh flowers in the village every week for the tables and the entrance, I do all the arrangements myself.”
It’s not just the routine things that are important to Ruby but the little extras too and she enjoys helping the residents in any way she can.
“I am in and out of their rooms regularly so get to know everyone,” she said. “I behave as if my own parents were here, that’s how I treat everyone. There used to be a lady here and I would always put her clothes out for her. She would just say ‘Ruby put my things out for me. You don’t have to do it but you do.
“I enjoy the time with the residents – that’s the best part of my day. East Hill has a really friendly, family feel, everyone feels it and comments on it. You can get very fond of the residents and it is hard when they go but everyone is good at getting through that and we all help each other.
“We all get on as a team, we all help one another out. If people on my team are off sick or there’s a problem then I will step in and clean, or whatever needs doing.”
Ruby received a number of nominations for the Lifetime Achievement Award and was quite overwhelmed to be shortlisted.
“I just do my job to the best of my ability so did not expect it, but it was a wonderful evening to attend.”
Despite just celebrating her 70th birthday Ruby has no plans to give up work any time soon.
“I am the longest serving member of the team here, part of the furniture really,” she said.
“I will carry on working as long as I can, it’s just a minute from my house and I love being with the residents. My husband keeps asking if I plan to retire but as long as I am happy, then he’s happy – and I am very happy here. In fact, the rose garden at East Hill is where I want to be long term,” she laughed.
“I would not have stayed as long as I have if wasn’t enjoying it. It’s lovely to see the residents happy, that’s the aim of the home.”