A Q&A with Thamesfield Village Manager Sophia Lawrence

Diary posted

6th January 2017

Sophia Lawrence | Village Manager

Thamesfield’s Village Manager Sophia Lawrence has a background in property maintenance and shares photos of her masterful cake creations with the residents, something they all enjoy!

We caught up with Sophia to find out more about her and why she enjoys her role at Retirement Villages.

Tell us how you came to work in the care sector and why it is important to you?
I became interested in working in the care sector after one of my grandparents moved to an independent retirement village. Its sense of community was very welcoming to him and this inspired me to search for a role in that field, one in which I could utilise my property skills.

What attracted you to Retirement Villages?
I saw Retirement Villages as a company in which I could develop my career through experience and the wide range of training it has to offer.

What skills or experience do you have that lends itself well to your role as Village Manager?
Previously I worked as a property manager for a company in Surrey where I managed approximately 200 properties. My skills and understanding of property management is the foundation for my role as Village Manager at Thamesfield.

Describe your role in a nutshell?
My role is varied but my daily focus is the smooth operation of the village and its ancillary services. This ensures that the residents receive the 5* service they deserve.

What do you enjoy about your role?
What’s not to enjoy about my role! My role is so varied and every day is completely different to the next. I feel like we achieve so much in a short space of time here.

How do you work with residents to ensure that issues of interest or concern to them are addressed?
We have many different avenues in which residents are able to share their views or concerns. We hold a quarterly residents meeting and we have a suggestion box.

How do you work to ensure transparency and harmony between the residents and Retirement Villages’ senior management?
I visit the residents every Monday morning to speak with them about any concerns or queries they may have. In addition to that I invite them to a meeting every three months, where we speak as a group about concerns or suggestions to enhance Thamesfield as a whole. These meetings include the nursing home residents and enable me to feed back to the managers, who I include in the distribution of the minutes.

Tell us about your staff and how they support you?
I manage mostly ancillary staff and as a whole act more as a facilities manager for the services we provide as a village and nursing home. My staff work very well as a team and are able to make decisions in order to ensure the service runs smoothly.

What are the main benefits you feel residents gain from living within your community?
Our village offers a residents club, which has a variety of benefits to ensure the residents’ needs are met. These include regular domestic assistance services and a concierge service, which the residents can use to book taxis or restaurants for example. It also provides activities seven days a week and 24hr emergency response.

How do the residents help create a lively social scene within the village? 
All the residents always attend birthday celebrations with the other residents and go out together for lunch once a month. They also meet up for tea in their own apartments.

Which are your most popular events or activities? 
Our most popular activities are the exercise group, singers and boat trips down the Thames.

What stands your village apart from the Retirement Villages’ bunch?
We run a 5* service that is bespoke to every individual, we are flexible to people’s needs and our hotel style concierge service takes the worries out of everyday living. Thamesfield is set on the beautiful banks of Henley-on-Thames with its own private moorings and views over the river and colourful gardens.

Tell us a little about you personally.
I am currently engaged and due to be married in July 2018. In my spare time I like to go cycling and belong to a local club. I often cycle to Henley to top up my weekly miles and sneak into the local chocolate café for a cheeky hot chocolate. I also enjoy card making and baking beautiful birthday cakes. I share photos of my creations with the residents as a lot of them enjoy baking or are creative as well. Plus, who doesn’t like cake!