Moving house should be an opportunity. No matter when or why, it should mean living somewhere that is better placed and equipped to fit your life as it is now, enabling you to live the way you choose – choose being the key word.
The first choice older people have is which service they want. Retirement Living has the reassurance of an on-site Manager. There is Retirement Living with Care, with the benefit of 24-hour on site staff, and the option of personal care. Alternatively, Assisted Living offers a simple all-inclusive plan covering all household bills, meals and 24-hour on-site staff support. Residents also purchase personal care to the degree they require. In both Retirement and Assisted Living there is the choice to buy, rent or part-purchase apartments; whatever is best for one’s personal circumstances.
Apartments are attractive, spacious, fully fitted and usually purpose-designed for later life, making everyday tasks such as using a kitchen, bathroom or light switch as easy as possible. Emergency response services and personalised care bring peace of mind and, once a person has all the daily (and nightly) assistance they need, their time is theirs to spend as they wish, every day. This might mean enjoying the privacy of their own apartments, joining friends in an on-site café bistro or lounge, or participating in activities and social events.
We want to make sure older people continue to have choices in retirement, whatever their needs or requirements. With Retirement and Assisted Living, older people have the freedom to continue living their lives as they wish.
Group Director – Retirement Living
June 1-7 is Volunteers Week, seven days dedicated to those people who give their time freely, and that is a priceless gift. We could not put a value on the 4,000 volunteers who enhance our staff’s important work, so we were very glad when the Queen stepped in.
MHA was one of just 60 recipients of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award. As a result, two volunteers – Sandra Clack of Stones Place in Lincoln and Roy Pritchard of Hall Grange in Shirley, Surrey – have just met Her Majesty at St James’s Palace, representing thousands of equally invaluable people.
Volunteering is a major element of our partnership with the Church; many, including Sandra and Roy, are local church members. We offer Chaplaincy services in all residential settings and some volunteers, like Sandra, assist in providing this spiritual support; for example, by helping with worship. Our Live at Home schemes have been described as ‘lifelines’ by members, and these are delivered almost entirely by volunteers.
Yet there is no such thing as a “typical” MHA volunteer. They range from teenagers to pensioners, and they are befrienders, fundraisers, drivers, entertainers, activity organisers and more. What they do have in common is a passion for MHA’s dedication to enabling older people to live fulfilled lives in the way they choose, and a selfless, generous nature that inspires them to give their time and skills as gifts. An accolade from the Queen, and a week dedicated to their appreciation, is the very least they deserve.
Rev Dr Keith Albans
Director – Chaplaincy and Spirituality
Held earlier this year, Climate Week was generally considered a chance for innovation. As just one example, MHA’s Willersley House in Hull made bags out of curtains, and dishes including golden vegetable soup and bubble and squeak out of the extra, unused food from earlier meals. But while being resourceful with food, fuel and fabric seems novel to many of us, they are nothing new to residents like Sadie, for whom these things were once rationed. “The sound of the sewing machine brought back memories of using my treadle machine [before] I went on to an electric model,” Sadie recalled. “I recycled my wedding dress in 1942 to make underslips out of it. I think it is an excellent idea to recycle old things to give them new life.”
We participated in Climate Week for several reasons. Our residential settings and Live at Home schemes are friendly communities within themselves, but they are also very engaged with the world around them. All generations can work towards a clean and sustainable environment and minimising waste helps us to continue providing high quality care at good value for money. But we also saw how much we can learn from older people in addressing relatively new concerns such as climate change. Those who have been on our planet the longest are well equipped to show us how to care for it into the future. We can learn a lot from those who dug for victory and made do and mended, before we were even born!
Director of Estates
A Chaplain in Australia wrote, “That for people with dementia, time is frozen into individual snowflakes which, as soon as they touch the skin, melt and are gone.” It makes sense to me, and helps to explain both the moments of illumination and communication, and the long silences in between.
When thinking about ageing in general or dementia in particular, comments such as this highlight aspects of loss and diminution. But might they not also point out aspects of life wherein older people are most definitely our teachers? Many of us spend so much of our time in busyness, planning what should happen next month or next year, that we miss out on the now – the present moment. And while it might be important to make plans, it is equally important to cherish the unique value of the moment. Sitting with our residents, it is interesting to hear of their plans or of the things they are looking forward to, but many conversations simply concentrate on what is happening now or on what is about to take place. And such conversations can go on for a very long time!
The injunction to ‘be still’ is common in many spiritual traditions. Whether in worship, meditation or contemplation, or simply in resting, it is about being ‘present’ rather than ‘absent’ and about being ‘now’ rather than ‘then’.
As I write this, the real snowflakes are falling outside. Consequently plans are being hastily remade, travel is difficult or perhaps even impossible, and ‘now’ is taking on a completely different perspective. I am powerless to do more than live in the present – and make the most of it.
Revd Dr Keith Albans
Director – Chaplaincy and Spirituality
What a year it’s been for MHA. We were named Best Residential Care Provider by market intelligence firm Laing & Buisson in its Independent Healthcare Awards and we received Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award, the corporate equivalent of the MBE.
We were delighted to continue expanding our services to older people. For example, Assisted Living, which provides care home levels of support to people in private apartments, was established in Fulwood Court in Liverpool and Alexandra Court in Dovercourt, Essex. We also redeveloped the centre of Auchlochan Garden Village in South Lanarkshire, bringing new services to residents including 24 new apartments offering flexible care and support, a café bistro and a hair and beauty salon.
2013 promises to be more exciting still, as we will be celebrating our 70th birthday. We have already had messages of goodwill and congratulations from supporters including Dame Judi Dench, Tony Robinson, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, Baroness Joan Bakewell and more. Our Thanksgiving Service at Coventry Cathedral is on Wednesday 17 April will be echoed in celebrations at our homes and schemes all over the country, and our annual Methodist Homes Sunday on 9 June will take our Platinum anniversary as its theme. We look forward to opening new services for older people, such as the upcoming Assisted Living scheme Victoria Court in Headingley, Leeds.
We have come a long way since our beginning in 1943. Together with residents, relatives, staff, volunteers and supporters, we look forward to a successful 2013, and many more years of serving and caring for as many older people as we can reach.
Roger Davies, Group Chief Executive
I read this recently on Facebook: “Listen to your elders’ advice, not because they are always right but because they have more experiences of being wrong.” It says something about the wisdom that is supposed to come with age – less to do with knowledge and much more to do with the ‘nous’ that comes from having seen a bit of life. Wisdom is about the sum total of our experiences, from which we have sometimes learnt painful lessons, added to the experiences of those around us. In other words, wisdom is a community’s possession and should not be limited to an individual.
One of the oddest developments of the past 30 years has been society’s over-reliance on ‘experts’. They appear helpful, but when things go wrong they are easy to blame and dispose of. In the same period it seems that people in high office are getting younger, while a media-driven obsession means that anyone making a mistake must immediately resign. Might it be that as none of these trends value wisdom, they may instead point to a cause of society’s current malaise?
In the Christmas story the people usually called ‘wise’ are the magi – people who studied the skies and made their plans accordingly. But the other wise people are an old man and an old woman – Simeon and Anna – who recognised the infant Jesus when his parents took him to the Temple. I wonder, how many times had they got it wrong before the day when Mary and Joseph presented them with their child?
Revd Dr Keith Albans
Director – Chaplaincy and Spirituality
I think what I like the most about my job is the opportunity to really build up relationships with people. I love to find out who they are, where they came from, all their individual histories. That’s an important part of care in any sense, and it’s true for spiritual support as well. Families find it very difficult when their loved ones are vulnerable, or have dementia, and I’m glad to be able to offer support to them too.
I’m a keen gardener, and I like to bring things in from my own garden to help residents to enjoy sensory experiences and feel connected to the outside world. I’ve brought my own sweetpea, pea pods and lavender, and shells from the beach. These things have such a positive effect on people, and help them to reminisce and recall their own happy memories.
I provide one to one support, but if several people would like a certain service, I arrange that. For example, at one point we had quite a few Catholics who wanted to say the rosary, so I arranged a service for that. I’m also available to staff members who want spiritual care and support
I feel very privileged to be working at Amathea and to be able to have formed the relationships with residents that I have. I got married recently and I was delighted that several residents were able to attend my wedding as guests.
Yvonne Myers, Chaplain of Amathea care home in Workington, Cumbria