Author Archives: Jan

A Special Visitor to the Current Affairs Group

Several people have been keeping the regular Current Affairs host MD Jeremy’s seat warm whilst he is away for two months. This week we were delighted to welcome Chris Lloyd, Chief Features Writer at the Northern Echo and Darlington & Stockton Times.

In weekly discussions about the topics of the day, talk very often turns to the subject of the press. Who can we trust to tell us the facts? Who reports the news – is it those with ‘the authority’ to do so or is it increasingly everyman with their trusty smart phones? What can we do about fake news? How can the print press survive in modern times when ‘free’ digital news is so popular?

We therefore invited a contact from the world of the press so that we could hear it from the horse’s mouth.

Chris was a great speaker and his experience gave depth to the answers to our questions. In particular, he has a passionate interest in local politics and history. It was fascinating to hear about reporting in the days of Tony Blair, Mo Mowlem, Peter Mendelson and Alan Milburn.

He was also clear about the challenges that the print press face and the possible solutions.

We were still listening intently when the hour was up! Thank you very much, Chris.

Next week, we look forward to the Mayor and Mayoress of Darlington 2016-17 Brian and Doris Jones joining the group.

Happy 80th Birthday Ellen!

Congratulations to Ellen Muldowney, Hostess in Middleton Court, who celebrated her 80th birthday!

We consider it a privilege that Ellen is happy to continue in her role here at Middleton Hall. For 14 years, she has been a wonderful support to residents and a cheerful part of the team. Typically, Ellen didn’t want a fuss, but nonetheless, colleagues and residents showed their appreciation for her fantastic commitment. She is an example to us all.


Care Services Open Day

Saturday 13th January 2018

11.00am – 3.00pm

An Open Day will be held for all those wishing to know more about the care that Middleton Hall can provide. You may be looking for yourself for now or for the future, or for a family member or friend. We understand that people are interested to know more for all kinds of reasons. All are welcome.

We offer a range of care services as we understand that people’s needs vary greatly. Some may require some care but essentially wish to remain as independent as possible – Supported Living with Care may be the best option in this case. Some may enjoy the benefits of Hotel Living with Care. Others may decide that small group living or nursing care is most appropriate.

Just come along and have a chat with residents and staff. View the facilities and enjoy some refreshments.

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The Brownies Carol Concert – An Annual Delight

Residents were treated once more to the annual carol concert by Middleton St George Brownies and Guides.

They performed all our festive favourites. Not only did they sing delightfully but had taken the time to make little hand-tied gift bags with personally decorated tags. A lovely gesture.

As someone commented afterwards;

“Ah! Now that the Brownies have been, it’s properly Christmas!”

A ‘Make a Wish’ Festive Coffee Morning

Pupils of St George’s Church of England Academy gave us the honour of their presence at a festive coffee morning. It really was a delightful morning for all ages.

The children were complete naturals at socialising with their older companions. There was a very buzzy atmosphere – especially when Santa made an appearance. We were also treated to an impromptu performance of Jingle Bells – twice, so that residents could join in too.

A theme of the coffee morning was ‘Make a Wish’. The idea is that staff can learn more about residents’ hopes and dreams, so that they can make them come true in the coming year! It was heart warming to read the wishes that the children also wrote down and ‘posted’ on the tree. Not one wished for anything material or commercial. In fact, they hoped to visit again, to show the residents their own school and that residents might see loved ones on Christmas Day.

A big Christmassy thank you to the children, their teachers … and Santa. You really made our day.

A Blog From Down Under

It is almost 22 years since I first stepped foot in Middleton Hall. Middleton Hall is a very different place in 2017 than it was on that life changing day in January 1996. It has been a quite extraordinary journey for me personally as well as the company since that time and I have to be honest in saying that 22 years of living Middleton Hall’s ups and downs has not always been easy. I do feel that I need a break, so I have taken the opportunity of an extended break. A sabbatical of sorts. With a little research built in. And perhaps Middleton Hall deserves a break from me!

Hence this blog is being written from New Zealand. A country where retirement villages have ten times the market share of the UK and where retirement villages have existed and flourished for several decades. All this in a country that is slightly bigger than the UK in area but with 7% of the population and some utterly stunning scenery. In 2016 a group of leading Australian, New Zealand and British retirement village operators got together in London and it was clear we have plenty to learn in the UK. So, a little learning is on my agenda. Along with some walking, cycling, catching up with friends down under and the small matter of the Ashes.

I am writing this after a day’s cycling in the South Island. Mount Cook is glowing in the evening sun, framed by the patio doors in our accommodation after being shrouded in cloud when we were near the base yesterday. I will avoid mentioning any problems with temperature as I read that Heathrow has been closed with snow and the forecast for parts of the UK is -12°C.

Many of you know that one of my other passions in life, aside from Middleton Hall, is cricket. As I appear to have just about retired from playing it may be time to watch a little more cricket and the Boxing Day test match in Australia seems like a good place to start. It does however involve getting a flight from Auckland at 6am on Boxing Day morning to arrive for start of play in Melbourne.

After watching England win the Ashes in Melbourne and Sydney (at least that Is the plan) and seeing some Australian retirement villages, I am switching 30°C for -25°C in the mountains of Japan’s north island.

I am hoping that this should recharge my batteries and perhaps help chart the course for Middleton Hall over the next 22 years. Although we have accomplished a lot in 22 years, there are always opportunities to improve and part of this trip is about learning from successful equivalents working in a more mature market than the UK.

Bring on the next chapter in Middleton Hall’s journey.

With my very best Seasonal Greetings from Down Under.

An Ordinary Extraordinary Living Well Meeting


What is a Living Well meeting? you may ask ……

Every month, a representative from each care service as well as the front of house, admin, gardening and maintenance teams meet to discuss how best we can make a positive difference to how ‘well’ residents may live at Middleton Hall.

We hear how other teams have planned and delivered activities. We rollout village-wide programmes such as preparing for Fun Days or coffee mornings. We share and reflect on best practice both within Middleton Hall and in other care and retirement settings. We also think how we could have done things differently and in some cases better or for more people. The benefits aren’t limited to residents – the mental and physical health of staff members is just as important. See our Life at Middleton Hall pages for details of what goes on.

Living Well meetings are always extraordinary and throw up unexpected gems. Often, it is the small gestures and one-to-one times that make the biggest difference.

The fabulous new workshop at Middleton Oaks set the unusual, one-off scene for the final Living Well meeting of 2017, It embodied all the great ‘can do’ attitude displayed by staff. Yes it was cold! Yes the chickens came wandering in! Yes, a resident joined us unexpectedly for a while! But the ‘Lucky Thirteen’ came along, tucked into mince pies and warm drinks, shared and planned for 2018. Bring it on!

Middleton Gardens Kicks off the Party Season


Middleton Gardens is the first of the four care services to host it’s Christmas party.

Invited relatives and friends joined residents for the annual event. Spirits were high and all enjoyed the three course lunch, followed by entertainment.

Each of the other three care services will have their own chance to kick their heels up over the next three weeks. We can’t wait!

Christmas Fair Welcomes Santa to Middleton Hall

The day dawned clear and bright for an energetic start to the Middleton Hall Christmas Fair.

Stallholders bustled around setting up their displays, and the kitchen team put the finishing touches to the batches of festive breads and mince pies … and the mulled wine!

Residents and families toured the halls, making a determined start to their Christmas shopping. There was plenty to see, and lots of people to stop and chat to. Much money was raised through the raffle and the tombola. Even Santa made an appearance. It was a very sociable event and a lovely way to start the festive season.

Jeremy’s Blog – Middleton Gardens and the ‘3 Cs’

This year we have introduced the ‘3Cs’ at Middleton Hall.

Communication, Challenge, Change

The idea is that everyone is responsible for the ‘3Cs’. We all have a part in Communication – not just leaders (“If you didn’t know, did you ask?”); Everyone can and should Challenge what we do (“Might there be a different way of doing that?” … Managers are not always right); and we all need to embrace Change (the only way we will keep improving is continuous change).

This month, we are updating one of our care services. Lots of the ‘3Cs’ involved all the way through.

In truth I have never quite understood what “residential care” really is. We aim for all our services to be distinctive as well as excellent and we felt that 2017 was the time to re-think what we offer in Middleton Gardens (historically “residential care”) to make it more distinctive.

When Middleton Oaks opened this summer, it left us with eight empty rooms next to Middleton Gardens. The obvious short-term way forward would have been a quick bit of redecorating and fill the rooms as we had plenty of people on the waiting list for “residential care”. But…Challenge…was that really the best thing for the longer term? Could we make a Change and do something innovative that might enhance residents’ lives further? And then, how would we Communicate all that?

Out of the Challenging, Changing and Communicating that we have done since January, has arrived not just a bit of re-branding but two smaller and more distinct services:

Supported Living with Care (“Designed for residents willing and able to plan their days independently”) – a more homely, informal atmosphere for just twelve residents who will be supported to undertake a more active and independent lifestyle (cooking, gardening, looking after hens and other interests).

Hotel Living with Care (“Flexible hotel style care service to suit individual requirements with restaurant meals”) – a highly bespoke care service for 16 residents with generous communal facilities.

A team has worked on planning the new services (our building team has virtually re-built the eight rooms so they all have patio doors and some bay windows, brand new shower rooms and a new communal space) and Supported Living with Care will open at the end of this month.

A good example of our ‘3Cs’ in action.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and certainly our new clients in our Supported Living care service will be eating well.