Author Archives: Jan

Briefing Sessions – an Update on Middleton Hall

Thank you to all those residents and staff who came along to hear Jeremy Walford’s update on Middleton Hall’s journey. As Managing Director, he was keen to give an up do date perspective on progress, and plans moving forwards.

The series of briefing sessions was an opportunity to deliver the results of the surveys undertaken by residents and staff at the close of 2017. This feedback is taken very seriously and forms future planning.

For reference and for those who were unable to attend, please find a summary of the briefings below.





Tapas Mondays Launched!

The inaugural Tapas Monday was a big success.

Of course, tapas is traditionally a Spanish affair, but why stop at tradition? Every other Monday evening in the Orangery, tapas dishes will feature foods and drinks from around the globe. We are simply combining what we know residents enjoy – good food in smaller portions at a reasonable price, an opportunity to try new wines … and not forgetting some rather excellent company.

Look at the weather! We could almost have been in Spain. The atmosphere was enhanced further by Sam Wilkes, who is usually to be found working in the kitchen but played guitar for us to enjoy. Thanks Sam!

The next Tapas Monday on 21st May will focus on Africa, with 6 new dishes. Can’t wait!












Flower Arranging Demonstration

Thank you very much to the lovely ladies from Darlington Flower Club who offered to celebrate National Flower Arranging Day by giving a very interesting demonstration to residents.

Not only did they create some wonderful displays but they very kindly gave them to lucky residents at the end of the session. It was a thoughtful gesture that meant a lot.






Care Home Open Day Highlights

” I don’t want to go home!” commented a visitor on Saturday afternoon.

What a day … what a week! This year as always, Middleton Hall took part in the annual Care Home Open Day programme. This is a valued national initiative that lends an opportunity to show others what life here is like.

The theme for all care homes in 2018 was ‘Linking Communities’ and we chose to focus on the topical subject of the Commonwealth. Each of the care services – Middleton Court, Gardens, Oaks and Grove chose a different Commonwealth country to feature in their activities throughout the preceding week. It was busy, busy, busy …

There was … a Commonwealth quiz, some arty-crafty Indian collage and bejazzelling elephant sessions, screenings of The King and I and Slum Dog Millionaire, and an array of tasty goodies such as Sri Lankan curry, Quebecois maple taffy apples, and Australian and French style cupcakes. The decorations were spectacular – in fact it was hard to tell Middleton Oaks from the real Australian outback.

Residents’ families were invited to come and see what we were getting up to. Everyone could enjoy the indoor curling and bowling, and the rousing performance of ‘Songs from the Musicals’ by the Middleton Hall choir.

It was obvious to all our guests that we don’t just have some impressive facilities but a great lifestyle within them.








An Evening on RMS Titanic!

It was simply a first class evening on RMS Titanic.

Residents who booked ‘tickets’ for their passage were delighted with the three course menu, re-created from the original one aboard the Titanic in 1912. They enjoyed selecting from the sumptuous range of four starters, five mains and some truly authentic desserts. A new wine list was launched, most appropriately for an evening such as this.

Residents dressed for the evening with pizzazz; a bottle of fizz was awarded to the best dressed table of diners. Many stayed on at the Captain’s Table.

There was even a special item on display – an intricate model of the Titanic, constructed over two years by a resident.

The kitchen team gives thanks for the many positive messages received, and adds that they thoroughly enjoyed it too! Unlike the original Titanic, which came to a tragic end, this boat will certainly set sail again.

Jeremy’s Blog – What a Load of Rubbish …

Our sustainability group moved on last year from focus on our carbon footprint to our plastic footprint when they found some of the terrible facts about plastic. By 2050, at the current rate of progress, there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish; one million plastic bottles produced every minute round the world being two such mind boggling numbers.

The world (or at least the UK and Europe) does also appear to be waking up to the problem, mostly courtesy of Sir David Attenborough’s “Blue Planet II”. My admiration for him is only increased by how the series highlighted environmental issues.

Our sustainability team has already made a dent in plastic use at Middleton Hall. Nothing to change the world but we all have to start somewhere. We now get our (organic) milk delivered in bulk and distributed by jugs, and the milk containers sold in the Orangery are good old fashioned returnable glass bottles. Well done Acorn Dairy for helping reduce our plastic containers by 500 a month.

We have also held screenings of the excellent documentary “Plastic Ocean” in the Vision Room over the last couple of weeks. Some residents and staff emerged appropriately shocked at the latest human endeavour to mess up our planet. “Dreadful” said one resident “and I am certainly never eating mussels again”.   I am not qualified to advise on how safe fish are to eat now, but it has certainly made me think again.

Another excellent initiative from our sustainability group was to organise a voluntary litter pick. I was slightly sceptical that picking up litter along 300 metres of the country lane that leads to Middleton Hall would need an entire group. How wrong I was.

  • 21 bin bags of litter
  • 75 glass bottles
  • 545 cans (mostly Carling for some odd reason)
  • 170 plastic bottles and 175 crisp packets
  • Quite a lot of “doggie bags” (not the take home to eat ones)
  • I car tyre, 2 plastic drums and a roll of wallpaper

I was genuinely shocked. All that in 300m of a low usage country road with no footpath. The UK has around 245,000 miles of roads. If our small road was just average, so that would be 28 million bags of litter sitting by our roads, if my O level maths is right. And I suspect that, as a high proportion of cars going along the road leading to the main Middleton Hall entrance are visitors and residents (and I cannot believe our customers would be lobbing empty cans of Carling out of their windows), our road might actually be below average.

The answer…

…according to the wise women of our Current Affairs Discussion Group last week, is to have all schools do a voluntary litter pick in a suitable location at least once a year and do their own maths on their findings. Some real education. (Credit to Dr Mani Mehta, Mrs Verna White, Mrs Ninette Mate, Mrs Sheila McGinn).

Because we cannot keep on living like this.

Top Marks at the ‘Back to School’ Coffee Morning

“Did you ever get the cane?”

This was a very good question, one amongst many posed to residents by pupils from St George’s C of E Academy Primary School at a ‘Back to School’ coffee morning.

It was a lovely opportunity to for children and residents alike to learn a lot in a busy and cheerful hour of questions and games. We played Beetle; a game from our youths that some of today’s young ones were not familiar with. We Spotted the Differences together, and guessed the number of eggs in a jar.

Thank you to the school for making our day. Everyone received top marks for behaviour and there were no detentions!

LITTER-ally Bags of Support

Residents keen to ‘make a difference’ took to the local lanes on a litter picking mission.

Tired of rubbish being carelessly discarded in the otherwise beautiful Middleton St George location, they got together and enlisted the support of the Sustainability Team at the retirement village. As they set off with practical and protective kit, it was clear that there was work to be done. Even they were shocked at the volume and range of litter collected in just a 300m distance.

In total, 21 bin bags of items were collected with contents as follows;

5 bags of tins (545 in all),

5 of plastic bottles (170 bottles and 175 crisp packets)

2 of glass bottles (75 in all),

8 of general waste (approx. 65-75 items), and

1 of dog waste.

In addition, they found other weird and not-so-wonderful items such as a car tyre, an 8ft length of plastic piping, 2 x 25 litre plastic drums and a metal sign.

MD Jeremy Walford joined the team to lend a hand. He is a strong advocate of Sustainability – one of the 5 core organisational values. The litter picking was one of a range of moves to reduce impact on the environment in the local and wider community.

Councillor Doris Jones is another supporter and on hearing about the initiative arranged for the council to collect the bags for disposal.

All in all, it was a very productive, even enjoyable afternoon.


Winner of the Best Employer Award 2018 – Skills for Care

 Middleton Hall is thrilled to have won a much-coveted award – the Skills for Care Accolade Award, Best Employer 51 – 249 Staff.

In the care sector, this award carries a lot of weight. It recognises the continual commitment to recruitment and training. By becoming a benchmark adult care provider, we are increasingly able to attract the best members of staff across the whole organisation.

Best employer of between 51 and 249 staff from Skills for Care on Vimeo.

Skills for Care said;
“… the whole team at Middleton Hall are committed to delivering the highest standards of person-centred care in a welcoming environment”

A team represented Middleton Hall at the awards ceremony and Lesley Henderson, Finance Director attended the associated conference, held on the same day in London. Both events offered important opportunities to meet those from other providers. It was a very ‘buzzing’ affair, with lots to discuss and people to meet.

With Jeremy chairing and Pam Mooney, Operations Director attending the ARCO Operations Management Summit on the same day elsewhere in London, it really was a day to raise the Middleton Hall profile.

Jeremy Walford Managing Director said;

“Visitors to Middleton Hall might initially be impressed by our facilities, as we do indeed have some great facilities for our customers. However, as our residents will tell anyone, what really matters is our staff. Our investment in the very best facilities would be wasted if we did not employ the very best people to work in them. Middleton Hall is through and through a people business and I am delighted that Skills for Care have recognised the efforts from all our team”

On a more light-hearted note, the host for the awards ceremony was Anton Du Beke, best known for his long-running appearances on Strictly Come Dancing. He proved an entertaining and witty host.

All in all, the experience from the selection process to the presentation was valuable in many ways. It also highlighted ways in which the retirement village can continue to improve.


Pancake Racing 2018

Some flipping competitive pancake racing was seen in Middleton Spa!

In what is becoming an annual event, those looking for a bit of fun descended on the Atrium. It really was very funny. Fortunately a new stash of pancakes had been prepared, as the racing ones spent as much time on the floor as in the pan.

When the frying pan was too heavy, there was some out-of-the-box thinking and a table tennis bat was produced. There are no obstacles here – just solutions!