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Jeremy’s Blog – Promises Promises

So we have a “snap election”. Some election bribes have been offered out (students clearly being part of Labour’s target market) and of course politicians on all sides are offering to throw money at the NHS.

Briefly there appeared to be some space opening up in policy terms around social care, before the Conservative party rushed into a U turn after some newspapers used the dreaded “dementia tax” label.

Amidst all this debate (some even focussing on policy rather than personality), it would be great to see courage and leadership shown about the problems in the NHS and Social Care. I fear this will not happen.

Before the election announcement, the government announced a green paper on the future of social care. Yet another no doubt lengthy report that will follow the usual routine. Concerns will be raised about funding, government will feel discomfort about how to deal with the issues so end up playing for time – preferably so the next government will have to deal with it.

The spectre of funding for social care has been stalking the corridors of different governments for over 10 years now and despite various Royal Commissions, Green Papers, White Papers and some actual laws nothing has really changed. The last attempt emanating from the Dilnot Commission produced the Care Act which included the infamous care cap. When the Department of Health finally realised the impact that it would have on the social care market as well as public funding, it was booted into the long grass until 2020 (conveniently after the next election was then due).

And that has been the way of the last 10 or more years. Put it off. Preferably until someone else will have to deal with it.

But neither the NHS nor social care industry can wait. More importantly, nor can older people trapped in hospital beds, in underfunded care homes or receiving inadequate care at home. Crisis is perhaps a rather overused term, but the social care crisis is now real.

Middleton Hall is fortunate in having customers who recognise that they want quality and are prepared to pay for it. But that is only part of the market. Those who do not have that choice are being ill served by our political masters.

History suggests that no government is really prepared to deal with the problem. And with a five year (or less when that is more convenient) election cycle, it is always too easy to find a way of putting it off. So let’s not have more reports or commissions. Let’s have some courage.

Courage for a cross party agreement, not an election gimmick. Courage to face up to the uncomfortable truth.

The truth that we can no longer afford to maintain either the NHS or social care without either accepting that many of us will have to pay more tax or many of us will have to pay for our care.

So party leaders – how about some real leadership? Never mind the election gimmicks and whether someone has the right charisma or dress sense to be Prime Minister but how about someone prepared to speak the truth. We cannot have a low tax economy and high quality public services – especially with something as important as social and health care.

No more vague promises or putting it off. Just be honest with we electors.

Jeremy’s Blog – Parties and Profit

How do you measure success? Bottom line profit? Achieving targets? Company growth?

Of course, financial results are incredibly important to all businesses but that is not really how I judge whether Middleton Hall is successful. If I ever have any doubts about success, I find going to a party a good test.

I have recently attended three parties at Middleton Hall – our annual Fun Day, Middleton Court’s celebration of 10 years since opening and as a guest at the party that one of our Middleton Woods residents throws each year. My fellow director Lesley also enjoyed attending the Middleton Oaks summer party on Saturday. It is at those events that I really get a sense of what we are achieving at Middleton Hall.

Many staff were involved in putting together the Fun Day (Wizard of Oz theme this year) with great creativity, huge enthusiasm, and a lot of hard work. Their efforts were rewarded with a large turnout and as one resident said to me “I don’t think I have ever seen so many smiling faces”.

Middleton Court opened 10 years ago as a new facility for nursing care clients. I well remember several owners of nursing homes telling me it could never work with only 20 beds (and what on earth were we doing installing full en-suite shower rooms for nursing care?). Their considerably larger businesses were of course cost driven models and what they failed to realise is that there is an alternative quality driven model. Middleton Court was full within six weeks of opening in 2007 and has consistently received very high customer satisfaction. The party to celebrate its 10th anniversary was full of cheerful residents and families pleased that we have stuck with nursing care. Most of our doubters have since given up even providing nursing care.

At the Middleton Woods private party that I was honoured to attend, there was a buzz around the restaurant and much jollity. I was telling some of my fellow guests about an incident not long after the first residents moved in ten years ago. I was at work late one night and walked past the bar around 10pm and heard some laughter coming from a group of residents sat in the bar following a meal in the restaurant. When I put my head round the door, one of them enquired if we did “lock-in’s”. Obviously, Middleton Hall would not condone out of hours drinking, but I did walk away delighted with the spirit (in both senses) of our pioneering new residents in 2007.

Of course, we need to make good profits and achieve financial returns on the considerable investment made into the business to repay debt and reinvest for the future. However, as a retirement village, all that investment would not make any sense if we did not make a positive difference to the lives of our customers at Middleton Hall.

So a good party is perhaps the real test of success at Middleton Hall.

A Great Sing Challenge

The SING! Challenge ….. What a fantastic afternoon! Enjoyed by so many, from those aged 10 to 101! And everyone in between.

All over the UK, in conjunction with Comic Relief, people in care homes across the UK joined together to sing ‘Sing’ by the Carpenters. The Middleton Hall choir did us proud, not only with a rousing rendition of ‘Sing’ but many other favourites that we could all sing along to.

We were delighted to be joined by schoolchildren from St George’s C 0f E Academy. They learnt the song and came to add a special energy to the proceedings. What a brilliant team!

Many residents came to enjoy the fun. The red nosed biscuits were a treat and all in all, it was a great afternoon. Over £38 was raised for Comic Relief too.

Thank to our choir and St George’s Academy for their hard work and smiles. 









And They’re Off … A Great Race Night Raises Money For Mayors Charities

Residents and friends gathered for a hugely enjoyable Race Night. Not only did we raise the roof with cheering our horses on but we raised money for the Mayor’s charities too.

Not everyone had been to a Race Night before, but it wasn’t long before we all got the hang of it. The evening began with a hearty, Irish themed supper and then the racing began in earnest. Compere Ian added professional know how to the event and soon we were all putting our money where our mouths were, betting on horses and even buying ownership of the horses we liked the sound of.

The first race was named The Chain Gang Classic, after the enthusiastic party of mayors and their partners who attended in support of the occasion. The other races, such as the Rose of Waterside Cup, Middleton Magic Stakes and Into the Woods Spirit Cup were equally popular.

The takings for each race were split 50/50 with half going to the Mayor’s Charities. The other half was divided amongst those who bet on the winning horse. Additional prizes were presented to the winning horse owners. 

Thank you to everyone who supported the event. In response to the very positive feedback …. yes, we will have another similar event in the future!





Finalist at the Skills for Care Accolade Awards

What an honour to be one of only four finalists in the Skills for Care Accolades Awards!

Middleton Hall was shortlisted in the category of Best Employer (51-249 employees) and we travelled to the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool for a Gala Dinner to celebrate the awards. We didn’t win but the event was a memorable experience and highlighted ways in which we can continue on our journey to achieve excellence.  We were delighted that Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Social Care at the CQC (pictured here, right, lower row) made a point of making contact to congratulate Middleton Hall on its Outstanding CQC rating.

The ceremony was the finale of a day’s conference, attended by Fiona Green, HR and Marketing Manager. Both during the conference and at dinner, it was a fantastic opportunity to meet and speak to other organisations that, like Middleton Hall,  strive to be the best. Dame Moira Gibb CBE, Chair of Skills for Care commented

“What unites all our impressive finalists is not just their clear commitment to supporting the learning and development of their people, but an ability to be innovative in the way they deliver care and support services”

As well as being an occasion to recognise high achievers, it was without doubt also a celebration. TV celebrity Samia Ghadie was an entertaining host for the evening and a live band provided the music for a spot of dancing. All in all it was a great night, and one that only make us more determined to continue with our progress and return in 2018.



















“Getting Better Never Stops”

Although not any sort of rugby expert, I do enjoy watching Rugby Union. The Six Nations has been interesting this season – England’s winning run equalling the world record and Scotland appearing to provide serious opposition. Until they met England on Saturday at Twickenham that is.

England have extended their winning run to 18 consecutive wins and if they beat Ireland next Saturday will have achieved back to back grand slams in the Six Nations. Interestingly though, for most of the Six Nations they have not actually played terribly well.   In some matches they barely turned up for the first half. Despite that they keep winning, which is perhaps a sign of a good team.

On Saturday, they managed to turn up for both halves and Scotland’s new found pride did not last long (nor that of their female counterparts after an equally uncomfortable encounter against the potential grand slam winning England Women). England suddenly looked like real champions. Comparisons with the New Zealand All Blacks may seem premature (beating the All Blacks is not, yet, part of their winning run). However, there are some parallels with the 2003 World Cup winning side.

England won the 2003 World Cup for many reasons. One of those reasons was the drive, leadership and determination of captain (Martin Johnson) and the vision and planning of coach (Sir Clive Woodward). One of Clive’s catch phrases was “Getting Better Never Stops”.

Having previously written about the All Blacks’ values in my blog, another Rugby/Middleton Hall comparison springs to mind.

Last week, Middleton Hall Retirement Village was awarded the coveted “Outstanding” by CQC (Care Quality Commission) following a three day, unannounced inspection in January. Only 0.5% of care homes have achieved “Outstanding”. But Middleton Hall achieved something more impressive – our outstanding team achieved the very rare feat of being rated as outstanding in all five key areas of that CQC inspection. The Grand Slam of Outstanding.

As a result, we received a visit from Debbie Westhead (Deputy Chief Inspector, CQC) last Thursday and also met Andrea Sutcliffe (Chief Inspector, CQC) at an awards dinner that evening. Both asked me how I felt about our outstanding achievement. I said that, in honesty, I had mixed feelings about it. Because I am worried that people might confuse this achievement with being the destination rather than a step on the journey.

You see, I truly feel that Middleton Hall can improve much further and that we still have far more work to do.

Sir Clive Woodward’s mantra is the point. Getting Better Never Stops.

Exciting Finds at Metal Detecting Workshop

A resident struck …. not gold, but copper at the recent Estates workshop. The group was using a metal detector to explore the Middleton Hall grounds in an entirely new way.

The find was a ‘Cartwheel Coin’ – a two pence coin, unusually made from solid copper and presenting the head of George III. Quick research shows these coins to have been minted only in the year 1797.

The coin may be a link to New South Wales in Australia, to where 18,000 of these coins were exported, and/or to the military. The year pre-dates the first known history of Middleton Hall being built on the land in 1820.

Other ‘treasure’ included small aluminium parts thought to have possibly come from an aeroplane which crashed onto the Middleton Hall site in WW2.

All in all, it was a very interesting morning.

A Flipping Good Pancake Race


Residents and staff were up for a bit of fun on Shrove Tuesday this year. A Pancake Race! And why not?

Various heats were held, with a certificate and voucher for the overall prize winner. It was the taking part that was such fun. There are no obstacles in our Pancake Race and as usual we do things the Middleton Hall way.

This is proof that a competitive spirit never leaves you!



















Venice Comes to Middleton Hall

We were in Carnival spirits for a Venetian inspired coffee morning.

Creativity knew no bounds as, before the date, residents in each corner of Middleton Hall decorated masks with true flair. The results were worn and displayed to great effect. Middleton Grove, Middleton Gardens, Middleton Court and Family Living also designed and decorated a very special full face mask of their own for a competition. As ever, the idea of a competition raised the bar even further. The winning entry, by Family Living, was stunning.

Thank you to the kitchen team, who graced the tables with an array of traditional British and Italian cakes and biscuits. All in all, it was a spectacle to brighten a February morning.





















Oh what a night!

2016 was a fantastic year at Middleton Hall, with lots to celebrate and we certainly did our best to do just that. With a break in tradition, our annual celebrating success evening was held off site at the Hall Garth Hotel.  The evening celebrated the highlights and achievements in 2016 and also recognised our long serving staff.

Over 140 years of long service were celebrated this year, with Verna Pritchard, carer being recognised for 30 years long service. It was also 20 years since directors Jeremy, Lesley and Adrian came to Middleton Hall when the village began its real journey to making Middleton Hall the special place it is today. Other awards on the night went to Debbie Sanderson for 10 years service and Hannah Craggs 5 years. 







Others who were unfortunately not able to attend but who also were recognised for long service include Sue Hoggarth – 15 years, Jo Saddington – 10 years, and Gail Jones and Sue Gray – 5 years. It was a pleasure to give thanks to all the above members of staff for their contribution throughout a significant number of years.

We watched and remembered events and special moments from 2016 illustrating the efforts made from all staff.  The event is one of the ways we thank our staff for all their effort and the fantastic contribution they put in to making it the characterful and friendly place it is. The pictures say it all, capturing what was a great night enjoyed by everyone. Well done to Kirsty for her outstanding efforts of hand free After Eight eating.








A great night was had by all as we celebrated just as we work – with great humour, with exuberance and with each other.