, Derry, New Hampshire


February 13, 2013

Column: Hopkins Home was Derry’s first effort at elder care


The trustees next had the task of writing by-laws and regulation for the home. The daily running of the home was placed under the charge of a matron with the directive that, “order, neatness and good conduct must prevail in every part of the establishment.” Matron was to be present at every meal and keep inventory of everything belonging to the home. She was not to be a tyrant, instead “by her kindness, attention and judicious treatment, endeavor to gain the esteem and secure the comfort and happiness of those under her care.”

To be admitted to the Hopkins Home, the lady had to be at least 60 years old and a resident of Derry or from a surrounding town. She must be of “good character” and able to care for herself. The lady must lack sufficient money to take care of her needs and had no family or friends who were “able or liable to maintain” her. Upon entry, “the inmate” had to give the home $500 and the deed to any real estate she should own. She also had to surrender to the home anything that she would inherit or be given after moving into the home.

The Hopkins Home was intended to be their residence for the rest of their lives. As they became more enfeebled, their meals would be brought to their bedrooms. The more able-bodied inmates were expected to care — as best they could — for the others who could not clean or feed themselves. All medical bills were paid by the home. Local doctors would make house calls there and if they had to go to a hospital, their room would be waiting for them upon their discharge. Nursing was done by the matron or the other residents. They were a family and family members took care of each other. I’ve been told that each lady was also expected to bring with them one clean, decent dress in which they can be “laid out” at their funeral.

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