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Horsfall House update – 5th January, 2021

The old adage of ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ has never been so true. 2020 was truly tough and it looks as though 2021 at least for a few more months will be equally so. Good things often come out of difficult times and Horsfall House has been blessed by a wonderful community spirit. The staff as we all know have been magnificent throughout coming through these stressful times with a wonderful and indomitable spirit. Everybody at Horsfall has been truly appreciative of the support of everybody in and around Minchinhampton, the businesses, the local residents who applauded through the Clap for Carers and our fund raisers and the near 400 people who joined the Gatcombe Charity Walk. I also want to pay tribute to all our Service Users, Residents, and their families. In this difficult year you have been patient, appreciative and unfailingly supportive – thank you.

Whilst 2020 is a year to forget , it did end on a positive note. On the 30th December, with the  support and dedication of Dr Simpson and his team at the Minchinhampton Surgery we carried out 198 Covid vaccinations. This included all residents and staff, one of which was Jane Fry our own registered nurse who is trained in giving this particular vaccine and was kept busy on the day. It was a huge logistical exercise and the administration of getting all our staff in at the same time along with a few others from the community was massive. Well done to all involved. Horsfall House is part of the community and I am really pleased that Margaret Greaves has been working with Dr Simpson and a myriad of NHS administrators to facilitate the opening up of our facilities to become a local vaccination hub. The first of these clinics will occur on the 9th and 10th of January when we hope that up to 1,000 people may attend over the two days. This will also enable new members of staff and residents to be vaccinated as well. If this works well, we hope to become a regular vaccination site supporting Minchinhampton. This will not interfere in anyway with the care and attention being given to residents.

Again, I would like to pay tribute to Stroud Hospital League of Friends and their kind donation in lieu of providing Respite Care. This is a valuable service providing much relief to family units and one which we are seeking to reopen in the near term.

As you will have seen it is also good news that we are now able to accept new residents and since Christmas we have welcomed two new occupants and wish them a long and happy stay. As part of facilitating this we are continuing to carry out full weekly Covid Testing of all our staff and every 28 days for residents. In addition to this from today we will be undertaking Lateral Flow Tests on all staff twice a week. Visitors to Horsfall House will also receive and this will continue for the foreseeable future. Thank you to Nicola Priest who, amongst all her other duties, will be leading this large increase in administrative, but necessary work. 

Sadly, after a very short period we have had to stop all visiting again due, initially, to being moved into Tier 4 and now to a further total lock down. We will though work hard to come up with a viable solution just as soon as we are so allowed. The LFT is part of that solution and Margaret and Nicola will keep you updated as the situation changes.

We have an ongoing improvement plan for the Home though in 2020 this largely went on hold. We are planning to resume this in 2021 largely focussed around bettering the décor and facilities in our rooms and general living areas. Investment in our laundry equipment was not anticipated but has becomenecessary. We had a short term crisis in November when laundry equipment failed, which was duly repaired but on review feel that our equipment should be upgraded, and this will be undertaken in the first quarter of 2021. We also plan to install better Wi-Fi services throughout the home and had hoped to have started this by now. We have received quotes to do the work, but it has a very significant price tag which would be outside of our normal funding capacity when comparing against other necessary works. We are however committed to doing this and I am working directly with the contractors to come up with a viable solution and have provisionally booked the work to start in the first week of February. A big thank you to Duncan Wood and the Fund Raising Team who have offered to run a project to raise money for this. It will make for a much better family and friends engagement allied to facilitating digitising of our care records. This latter point is also an important development but given both human and financial resource an effect of Covid may mean it backs into 2022.

I have throughout last year repeatedly thanked our staff and others for their support. The Home Care Teams also did wonderfully over Christmas amongst awful weather conditions. It would though be remiss not to acknowledge the work of the Trustees and the Management Board. These are purely voluntary posts, and no Trustee or Board Member receives any remuneration for their time and expertise. The Trustees (Supervisory Board) normally meet twice a year and the Management Board twelve times. The Chair of FGP and the Treasurer sit on both Boards and are also Trustees.  2020 has been different with additional (Zoom) meetings and many ad hoc discussions. All have been totally engaged and this increased time engagement is likely to continue into this new year.

Rod Marlow who has been instrumental in every activity of Horsfall House since the very early days retired at the last Annual General Meeting and we all owe him a great deal. He was my predecessor of the Management Board and has given me sage and practical advice ever since I took over in 2018. Earlier in the year Christopher Blackstone resigned and we are pleased that he has now become a Trustee; a position he had held for many years previously. Two new members joined the Management Board in 2020. David Buy, who with his expertise in Health and Safety has provided additional oversite and we are all grateful to him. Mike Lewis started in November taking up the HR element of the Board and is already bringing innovation and creativity to our all-important recruitment and staff development programmes. Lastly Marion Lady De Clifford stepped in at the end of last year and acted as Treasurer for a period has retired from that role though remains on the FGP. We are also grateful to Tony Pearson who continues to provide monthly accounts and has given us many years of service.

For the interim I will act as Treasurer which was my original role when I joined the Trustees in 2013. We will be starting an active recruitment for this voluntary position immediately and good governance requires that we fill this position quickly. If you know anybody who has a professional accounting background, allied to current knowledge of UK GAAP and Charity accounts then please do encourage them to contact me or Nigel Parry Chairman of the Supervisory Board. The Treasurer sits on both the FGP and the Supervisory Board.

A final thankyou to everyone involved at Horsfall House in every guise and wishing you all a good and safe 2021. Happy New Year.

Christopher Fisher

Chair of the Management Board

Minchinhampton Centre For the Elderly

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