CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Devon’s holiday home overlooking the Exe Estuary

PUBLISHED: 12:38 28 April 2015 | UPDATED: 12:38 28 April 2015

Sallie Rutledge at The Mede, Topsham. Ref dl 9331-10-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Sallie Rutledge at The Mede, Topsham. Ref dl 9331-10-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Archant

A bijou self-catering holiday home in Devon overlooking the Exe Estuary is making waves as a special means of support and therapy for those wishing to break the routine of a life with dementia, reports Emma Parfitt

Sally Rutledge (centre on bench) with her guests at her fifth anniversary party for her businessSally Rutledge (centre on bench) with her guests at her fifth anniversary party for her business

It was while relaxing on a sunny beach in Salcombe that Exeter nurse Sallie Rutledge made a decision that would help shape her life for the next five years and the lives of many others. She had decided to submit a bid to buy a bijou bungalow cosily tucked in the blanket of a mid-Devon close in Topsham, within a seagull’s view of the River Exe and nearby charming cathedral city of Exeter. The bid was perhaps a little speculative, as she did so: “Without telling my husband!” she laughingly recalls.

Five years later and with her family’s backing, I meet the very approachable and efficient qualified nurse Sallie, celebrating five-years minding The Mede. The Mede is the name for her five-bed rental bungalow. She also rents next door’s Seaward House bungalow as a day facility for daily activities for guests, and stays (it sleeps four). Locally gossip has done the rounds and some locals may have Sallie’s number already in their address books if looking

for respite when caring for those with dementia. Guests are travelling from as far away as Essex, or as close as Okehampton.

As I peer through the portholed windows in the Mede’s interior doors, I can see that it does meet a need, equipped to a high standard for a family, or couple in spacious hall, lived-in living-room, wet room, modest kitchen, and handy grab-rails should the need arise. Sallie effuses confidence and likes to chat - obviously smoothing away real worries with her thoughtful extra touches of lovely food to order, laundry and equipment in readiness for each stay. Although she can not give any nursing or personal care, she says:“I can ensure that if you need help while you are away from home, I can put that in place.” Already bookings are as steady as she goes, and it is all hands on deck in high season. As I visit they are at the start of what looks to be a busy time as The Mede is prepped between lets and made ship-shape (Bristol fashion) by Sallie’s helpful daughter Emma. Sallie knows first-hand how difficult it is to care for someone

with dementia.

Her late father-in-law, John had Alzheimer’s for ten years. After John passed away, mother-in-law, Sheila, spoke to the family about how difficult it was to cope in their final years together. Sallie relates: “She says she would often wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and wonder what sort of day she was going to have. Worrying about getting through the day and dreading what it may bring. Every morning was the same.” At the time her parents-in-law were a two hours drive away. Sallie recalls: “So I felt I never did enough to help with the day-to-day caring of him. My mother-in-law was exhausted, but said: ‘Don’t worry about me, I’m fine!’ but then she broke her hip and John went into a nursing home.” She always wonders if she had had a few days off, a night away, it might have given her more strength to cope for longer. Sallie explains. “I started Dementia Guest House Care (as it was first known) in my own home. But the masses of steps made me rethink and I sought a bungalow with sweeping estuary views.”

As I leave with a fact sheet on cognitive stimulation therapy in my laptop bag, Sallie is putting potatoes into the oven for her eight activity-club guests and helpers, ensuring they enjoy their chicken Kiev lunch. I can imagine the lovely aroma that will soon be wafting from the confines of Seaward House, drifting on the breeze over the Exe. Sallie’s recipe for relaxation, therapy days and a break from routine, might just be what the doctor ordered.

Contact Sallie Rutledge on 07718 976072 or 01392 421189 or at themede.org

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

11:06

Wild camping can be one of the best ways to escape the crowds for a night or two and lose yourself in the landscape - SOPHIE PAVELLE chooses her five favourite places to ‘wild-life’ camp in Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From sandy beaches and lighthouse-topped cliffs to views of the Jurassic Coast, the Devon coastline offers many perfect locations for a seaside walk. We pick 10 of the prettiest routes to take

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Take our quiz to find out how well you really know Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As the weather starts to warm up and the Devon countryside beckons, LIZZIE JANE of the National Trust in the South West offers plenty of walk ideas for you to try. Whether you want a relaxed Sunday stroll or a more strenuous hike, here are 10 walks across Devon (and beyond) to help you escape the crowds and head off the beaten track

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The South West Coast Path is celebrating 40 years by calling on people to help raise £40,000. To show their support, teams from Devon’s top tourist attractions are preparing to take to the trail. CHRISSY HARRIS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Away from the hustle of places like Woolacombe and Ilfracombe, North Devon is peppered with tiny coves, empty beaches and wooded walks leading to secluded bays that feel a million miles away from the tourist trail. BECKY DICKINSON reveals her pick of the best kept secrets on the North Devon coast

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

As part of her regular series where she visits Devon’s best places for 24 hours, Lydia Tewkesbury has this time been to Sidmouth

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ranging from rocky and windy walkways along the South West Coast Path to the sandy beaches on the picturesque coastline, the district of North Devon is one of the prettiest coastal areas in the South West of England. In no particular order, here are 10 of the prettiest villages in the district of North Devon

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In Devon’s towns and cities there’s an awful lot you can do in just 24 hours. For her regular feature, Lydia Tewkesbury travels to see what you can do in a day in Kingsbridge

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Villages in Devon are some of the prettiest in the South West. From beautiful little hamlets on the outskirts of the moors to seaside communities, we pick 10 villages in Devon you need to visit

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dust off your walking shoes and head to South Devon – here are 6 reasons why the area is so good for a stroll writes Victoria Rogers

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

There is something quite life-enriching about being by the water and in Devon there are plenty of ways to enjoy it, writes Fran McElhone. Including surfing, wild swimming, water skiing and more, here are 10 great ways to enjoy Devon’s water

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Encompassing large swathes of Dartmoor and plenty of the county’s most distinctive sections of coastline, it’s no wonder that the South Hams district is home to some of Devon’s prettiest places. We pick out 10 of the best towns and villages the area has to offer

Read more
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Devon is as beautiful underwater as it is above. Chrissy Harris highlights the best places to discover our county’s hidden depths… Here are 6 great places for crabbing, rockpooling and diving

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search