Our cosy home in Harrogate is the perfect place to love life in later years. Its warm and welcoming atmosphere extends to all (fluffy chicks included)

Lemon curd. That was what Betty chose for her birthday cake. At Emmaus House, every birthday is celebrated with a cake baked specially, with residents choosing the flavour. It’s just one of the ways staff go the extra mile to make residents feel at home.

Housed in an old Victorian hotel, Emmaus has room for 22 residents and prides itself on a warm and cosy atmosphere that everyone feels a part of. The home is situated close to Harrogate’s Cold Bath Road – known locally for its independent shops and stylish eateries – and has prime views across the genteel Valley Gardens.

“Our residents love looking out,” says Lesley Strafford, Manager at Emmaus House. “The lounge overlooks the main gate and beyond that you can see the playground with its paddling pool. In summer, it’s lovely for our residents to see the children splashing around and having fun.”

Making the move to a home can feel like a big step. Emmaus helps with this is through its Buddy System, where newcomers are paired with existing residents who are on hand to answer any questions and provide them with company. “It’s important to us to make sure all of our residents settle in well,” says Lesley.

Like all of our homes, life at Emmaus House is dedicated to supporting the spiritual well-being of those who live there. Daily prayers and hymns are organised by Pat Jones, the home’s Activities Coordinator and formerly Mayor of Harrogate. A recent video, captured in lockdown, shows how much everyone loves to sing

With family members unable to visit as usual, thoughtful gestures make a huge difference. The home also recently posted a slideshow of residents holding up rainbows with messages to their families on to its Facebook page. “We’re really making the most of our social media at the moment,” says Lesley. “It’s a lovely way to show families that we’re all okay.”

As well as times of devotion, organised activities for residents include everything from arts and crafts and board games to quizzes and armchair exercises.

The home also has strong links with the local community. Last winter saw the launch of a Friendship Club in collaboration with the local church, Kairos Network Church. Currently paused due to the lockdown, in normal circumstances the club takes place on a Monday afternoon. Residents from Emmaus are welcomed into the church alongside older people from the local community for an afternoon of cake, coffee and conversation.

In more usual times, the home itself welcomes in visitors, including children from the local primary school and parents and toddlers from a local group.

Fluffy chicks have also been known to take up residence at Emmaus, with incubators of eggs hatching out in the lounge. The chicks were introduced as part of Pilgrims’ Friend Society’s the Way We Care programme, which seeks to support those with dementia. “We find the presence of the chicks is especially helpful for those with dementia. They provide a visual stimulus that is very easy to engage with,” says Lesley.



A cat called Ginger and a dog called Woof are permanent members of the home. Always happy to be stroked or held on a lap, the pair are in fact robotic animals designed to support those with dementia, responding to touch with realistic sounds and movements. For animal-lovers especially, their presence provides valuable comfort, and adds to the cosy feel of the home.

Could Emmaus House be your loved one’s new home? Find out more