With a commanding view across the Derwent valley in Brandon, The Orchards is a fine example of Durham County Council’s Extra Care scheme which offers older people (or people with needs associated with old age) a supportive way of living independently.

Extra Care tenants have their own flat in a specially designed housing complex with 24 hour care and support available on site. This offers the independence of having your own home with the benefit of on-site personal care and support to meet your assessed need.

As well as the Orchards based in Brandon, There are schemes based around the county in Barnard Castle, Ouston, Seaham, Consett, Spennymoor and Crook.

Sheena Care worker
Sheena Bryson

Sheena Bryson has been a care worker for around 30 years. She’s a Homecare and Support Worker was at the Orchards when it opened around 18 years ago. “I’ve generally got a caring personality I suppose,” she says. “I looked after my parents and wanted to go into nursing initially but changed my mind when I went into a nursing home to get a bit of background experience. I like it so much that I stayed. I like to be helpful to people an think that is very important in this line of work. 

“The best part of the day for me is knowing that I’m making a difference to someone’s life and that I’ve provided the best service that I possibly can. Sometimes my day starts quite early, going round and seeing that everyone is ok, helping tenants with their breakfast medication and personal care. But we also have time to come down and do fun things like the weekly exercise class”.

One of the Orchards most amazing tenants is Edna who at 101 is the oldest tenant at the Orchards Extra Care facility in Brandon, seen here enthusiastically joining in the weekly seated exercises run by Age Concern. 

She’s had covid twice, the first time before the vaccinations were available near the start of the pandemic. Recently she fell and broke her hip, but had some rehab and bounced back only to catch Covid again just a few weeks ago which she is now fully recovered from  She’s a fiercely independent lady and still needs very little help from the carers, just a morning cuppa and a wellbeing check.

Edna smiling