GAMBLING and chats about the good old days form part of a care home's new gents club.

The men at Woodland Grove care home on Rectory Lane, Loughton meet once a month to play the casino, listen to music and chat about their memories or the day’s news.

The club has been organised by lifestyles assistant, Steve Pointer, to give men at the home a chance to get together with activities geared more towards their interests.

Mr Pointer said: “We have a range of activities but there are more that interest the women here such as flower arranging, baking and craft activities.

“That’s very much the picture in many care homes that also tend to offer, for example, a beauty and hairdressing salon but rarely a barber’s.

“Almost 40 per cent of men in residential care are aged over 75 and their lives will have almost certainly involved very traditional gender roles, including having more social and economic status relative to women.

"They may feel the change more strongly when they move into a care home as that status effectively vanishes. Bringing them together in a club like this can really help.”

The men at Woodland Grove live on different floors and the monthly meet-up is a chance to not only to enjoy each other’s company, but also to use exercise their brains.

“Many are highly intelligent who want to be active and stimulated,” added Mr Pointer.

“The casino is ideal for them to be able to work out their stake or plan their next move.

“One of our residents is usually very quiet but when he comes to the club he will chat with the others. It’s also an important time for the men to reminisce which has great benefits for their wellbeing. They can relate to each other’s experiences in a way they often can’t do with the women here.”

Gerald Slater, 83, moved into Woodland Grove last year after failing health made it too challenging for his wife to look after him at home. He’s a regular at the club.

“I served in the RAF and so I spent a lot of time with other chaps,” he said.

“When I came out I followed my father and went into the printing trade – I worked on Fleet Street as a machine hand so much of my working life was spent with men.

“The casino is good fun. We can swap stories about our National Service and I like having the chance to listen to records. I especially enjoy talking to another of the men, Peter. It’s much more relaxed without the ladies around.”

The home is now planning a putting green for the men to enjoy in the garden.