Thursday, 04 September 2014 01:00

Volunteers: the unsung heroes of the RMBI

Side by side

Around three hundred and fifty Freemasons volunteer regularly at RMBI care homes across England and Wales. Tabby Kinder meets the people who help residents combat loneliness, remain active and retain a sense of identity

Walking through the corridors of James Terry Court, the RMBI care home nestled in a quiet corner of South Croydon, Frank Lee and his wife Dot are in great demand. Residents stop to say hello to Frank and to hug Dot – and to ask after the couple’s many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

After eighteen years of volunteering here, Frank and his wife are part of the home, and the residents greet them as warmly as they do their own families. Frank is Chairman of the home’s Association of Friends – a group of volunteers who dedicate time each week to provide support to the care home staff, as well as friendship and entertainment to its residents. 

Each of the seventeen RMBI care homes across the country has its own association to provide extra support and friendship beyond the homes’ core services.

‘Freemasonry and volunteering go hand in hand,’ says Frank, who has been part of the Craft for forty years. 

‘It’s the residents that keep me coming back each month, though. They’re the most important people in the home, and it’s our job to make sure they spend the last few years of their lives feeling happy and secure.’

Frank has been Chairman of the Association of Friends of James Terry Court for five years, running the committee that consists of twelve men and six women. They each regularly visit the home to put on events for residents, escort them on trips to the pub, ballet or the theatre, and raise money. Each year, the volunteers raise around £20,000, which is spent hosting functions and buying new equipment to enhance the residents’ lives.

‘Freemasonry and volunteering go hand in hand. The residents keep me coming back… it’s our job to make sure they are happy and secure.’ Frank Lee

Sweet memories

Last year, money raised by the Association was also used to purchase twenty-eight new adjustable beds and a 1950s-style shop for the home’s Dementia Unit (complete with glass jars of sherbet lemons and an old manual till). Through its sweets and memorabilia, and giving residents the chance to work there, the shop helps re-create a bygone era and stimulates happy memories. 

‘It’s not easy for the residents when they first arrive – some of them don’t want to be here,’ says Frank. ‘It’s so important to me to make moving in easier for them and to ensure they settle in and come to feel safe here.’ 

As well as fairs, fetes and grand dinners on St Patrick’s Day, Christmas, Burns Night and St George’s Day – as well as a popular hog roast in July – Frank and his team hold regular coffee mornings, bingo and film nights. ‘It’s about making sure they don’t get bored,’ Frank laughs.

As a testament to Frank’s commitment to making sure residents are happy, his wife Dot keeps leaving our conversation to greet the ladies who live here, all of whom are overjoyed to see her. ‘I’ve always been a big believer in getting family involved,’ explains Frank. 

‘Dot and I are able to count many of these residents among our close friends, now.’ 

Festive philanthropy

Each year the committee hosts Christmas dinner for the residents of James Terry Court. ‘Freemasons should look after our elderly and do everything we can to help them,’ he says. ‘I’m very happy to be part of an organisation that makes sure this happens.’

The Association of Friends also holds a yearly Ladies’ Night for female residents who miss going to masonic events with their husbands. ‘They all look forward to it, queuing up for the salon months in advance and getting dressed up beautifully on the night,’ he explains.

Frank was recently awarded the prestigious Order of Mercy for his volunteering in the community by the League of Mercy Foundation, a royal body that recognises and rewards up to fifty volunteers nationwide each year. But he’s still modest about such recognition. ‘There are no individuals in the Association of Friends. I received the award for the time I’ve spent here, but I accepted it on behalf of the entire team.’

Charles Knowles, a new resident at James Terry Court, stops to talk about how the work being done by the volunteers has eased his transition into living there. ‘They come along here all the time and they treat me beautifully. You can’t ask for more than that,’ he says. 

‘Freemasons should look after our elderly and do everything we can to help them. I’m very happy to be part of an organisation that makes sure this happens.’ Frank Lee

Time and energy

Meet a few of the volunteers who regularly give their time and energy to help improve residents’ lives

‘I’ve been running the home shop for a long time now. It’s open every Tuesday morning and we sell sweets, crisps, chocolates, biscuits, toiletries, drinks and birthday cards. We have some of the residents to our home at Christmas time and Ted, my husband, still plays carpet bowls with them – something that started eighteen years ago!’ - Vi Melber, Patron of Lord Harris Court, Wokingham and Association of Friends member for 38 years

‘The home provides excellent nursing care to residents and the role of the Friends is to provide those things that aren’t part of the home’s remit, but that add hugely to their quality of life. We raise around £10,000 a year. If the home needs a wheelchair-converted mini bus, whenever it’s requested, we try our best to provide it.’ - David Lathrope, Chairman of the Association of Friends of Devonshire Court, Leicester and Association of Friends member for 12 years

‘We’re trying to make the living experience far more enjoyable at Scarbrough Court, and the funds raised by the Friends mean we can redecorate with vintage furniture and decorations – things that remind our residents of their younger days. A lot of the Friends have had loved ones here, so they’re aware of what’s needed.’ - Lesley Dawson, Home Manager of Scarbrough Court, Northumberland for two years

Published in RMBI

Award recognition for James Terry Court

Staff at James Terry Court in Croydon welcomed judges of the Pinders Healthcare Design Awards earlier this year, following the home’s nomination for 2014 Best Care Complex. Following a three-year, £12 million redevelopment, the site now boasts a purpose-built state-of-the-art care home and thirteen independent living flats in an attractive ‘old-meets-new’ design. At the awards ceremony in London, the care home was named a national finalist in the category along with one other home, narrowly missing out on first place. 

In 2013, recognition for the RMBI spanned its staffing, employment, catering and care initiatives. Accolades included winning the Ancillary Worker Award (North East) and becoming a finalist for the Care Employer Award (London) at The Great British Care Awards; the Outstanding WhiteOaks Contract for Scarbrough Court; and for the Recipes and Reminiscences cookbook, the UK Gourmand Award for Best Charity & Fundraising Cookbook, as well as a commendation at the Nursing & Residential Care Awards.

Published in RMBI

The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, has opened the RMBI’s fully refurbished, state-of-the-art care home at James Terry Court in Croydon

Also at the ceremony were the Mayor, Cllr Yvette Hopley, residents of the home, and guests and volunteers from the masonic community.

The Duke toured the home, joined by Surrey Provincial Grand Master Eric Stuart-Bamford and Deputy PGM Derek Barr. Also present were RMBI President James Newman, former President Willie Shackell, who presided during the rebuild, and Chief Executive David Innes. 

Following the £10 million refurbishment, James Terry Court can now house 76 residents and has 13 apartments for independent living. Surrey masons have generously supported the redevelopment: Springfield Lodge, No. 6052, donated £75,000; a local ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign raised more than £25,000; and The Grand Stewards’ Lodge donated £20,000. The Association of Friends of James Terry Court also provides substantial support each year. 

Published in RMBI

Phase 1 of the rebuild at the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) care home James Terry Court, in Croydon, has been officially opened. The event was attended by more than 40 representatives from the Province of Surrey, the Association of Friends and the RMBI.

RMBI President Willie Shackell opened the event and spoke about the history of the RMBI, which started in East Croydon with its first home, named ‘Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons’ in 1850. Shackell went on to explain why the rebuild of the home was necessary, as it needed to adapt to the changing needs of older people.

Thanks were given to Dennis Vine, who oversaw the development of the home in his role as Co-opted Trustee. Julian Birch, Regional Property Operations Manager, who sadly passed away in October, was remembered for all his efforts in the rebuild. The Association of Friends and the Province of Surrey, Metropolitan Grand Lodge, and the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight were also thanked for their support. The event saw the official opening of the lounge and library by Eric Stuart-Bamford.

Published in RMBI

Phase 1 of the re-build at RMBI care home James Terry Court, Croydon has been officially opened.

The event was attended by over 40 representatives from the Province of Surrey, the Association of Friends and the RMBI.

RMBI President Willie Shackell opened the event and welcomed all attendees. Willie spoke about the history of the RMBI which started in East Croydon with its first Home named Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons’ in 1850. He went on to explain why the re-build of James Terry Court was necessary as the original Home was looking tired and needed to adapt to the ever changing needs of older people.

Thanks were given by Willie Shackell to Dennis Vine who had overseen the development of the Home in his role as Co-opted Trustee, to the residents of the Home for their patience with the building works and to the staff for providing high quality care during the re-build. Julian Birch, Regional Property Operations Manager who sadly passed away in October was remembered for all his efforts in the re-build of the Home

The Association of Friends and the Province of Surrey, Metropolitan Grand Lodge and the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight were also thanked for their generous and continued support of the Home and the RMBI.

Eric Stuart-Bamford, PGM of the Province of Surrey went on to speak about his appreciation and gratitude to Home Manager Di Collins and the staff at the Home for the services they provide to the residents. Mr Stuart-Bamford also recognised the support that the Association of Friends provide to the Home.

The event saw the official opening of the Lounge and Library by Eric Stuart-Bamford and also of the Therapy Room by Libby Stuart-Bamford. The Therapy Room was built using the generous donation provided by The Grand Stewards’ Lodge as part of their 275th anniversary celebrations.

Those present were given a tour of the new building and ended with canapés and refreshments.

Published in RMBI
Thursday, 20 October 2011 09:49

The RMBI - Our Grand Designs

The RMBI continuously invest in their care homes to ensure that they meet government guidelines, legislation and the changing needs of older people. The RMBI also ensure that there is a consistent style in their Homes in order to create an environment for our residents.

Just over 18 months ago an Interior Design Manual was developed using the RMBI Corporate Identity guidelines as its foundation. This ensures that all RMBI Homes are refurbished to a consistent standard where the interior design is distinguishable and recognisable.

The Purpose of the Manual

The purpose of the Manual is to help provide an environment that suits all people living in RMBI Homes and to create an image that is welcoming and representative of the RMBI across all its Homes.

The Manual offers a series of options that the management staff at the RMBI can use to refurbish areas in the Homes, from furniture and curtain choices to wallpaper and flooring. This removes the temptation for a mix and match approach of personal tastes and helps to maintain a consistent style throughout.

As the RMBI's property portfolio ranges from listed and art deco buildings to purpose built care homes, the Manual was developed once a review was undertaken of all its properties. This was to ensure that colours and themes were selected that would enhance the buildings natural aesthetics and help to create more comfortable environments. This helps the RMBI management teams in choosing the right themes and colours to suit the building and most importantly the various types of care that is provided in different areas of the Homes.

A range of furniture and furnishings has also been selected on the basis of their high standard of quality, thus adding value to the Homes as well as ensuring that appropriate furniture is purchased to suit the varying needs of people living in our Homes.

Refurbishment at Homes

RMBI Homes have been going through major building and fire prevention works due to regulation changes. While this work has been in progress, the RMBI have taken the opportunity to carry out the refurbishments required at their care homes in line with the Manual, resulting in minimal disruption for the people living in the Homes.

Reception areas at care homes Cadogan Court in Exeter, Ecclesholme in Manchester, Lord Harris Court in Berkshire and Prince George Duke of Kent Court in Kent, have been upgraded to allow more space, natural light and seating areas and to form a more consistent image of a welcome area in RMBI Homes.

A previously unused section of Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court in Mid Glamorgan has been refurbished to provide 10 bedrooms with ensuite facilities in the form of wet rooms. In addition, the lounge, dining room and kitchen areas have also been refurbished, all in line with the Manual.

Prince George Duke of Kent Court in Kent, has also recently had its hairdressing suite upgraded and modernised to ensure that treatments are provided in pleasant and relaxing surroundings.

Queen Elizabeth Court in Llandudno, has had lounge areas and communal areas in the nursing wing refurbished in line with the Manual. This has given a new lease of life to the areas, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is suitable for the nursing care provided.

Connaught Court in York, is currently undergoing some major works to enhance the aesthetics of the Home as well as providing newly refurbished areas such as the new dementia zone area.

 James Terry Court opens its doors

Phase 1 of the rebuild of James Terry Court, Croydon opened this autumn. Phase 1 is furnished using the Manual to ensure consistency and a high standard of furnishings.

Published in RMBI

RMBI care home James Terry Court in Croydon is currently being rebuilt on site with Phase 1, the East Wing, now complete.

Home Manager Diane Collins received the keys along with resident William Gibbs who is a retired chartered surveyor and staff member Eileen Whiteman who has worked at the Home for 22 years.

The new East Wing facilities will provide up to 47 bed-sitting rooms with large communal areas. It will include full ensuite wet rooms and ceiling hoists in large spacious bedrooms which exceed the Government minimum requirements.

Phase 2 of the build will involve the rebuild of the West Wing. It will provide a further 28 bedrooms and will also include remodeling and refurbishing of the Home's main building to provide assisted living flats, where people can live independently with the full knowledge that care is available nearby.

The Home will provide residential, nursing and dementia care and will boast new dining facilities, health & beauty room and reception. The work has been phased, so that the current 39 residents face minimum disruption during the building works.

Published in RMBI

The Gold Standard Framework supports and works in tandem with RMBI’s ethos on end-of-life care.

James Terry Court in Croydon has recently received a national award recognising their Gold Standard end-of-life care. The Gold Standard Framework (GSF) helps care homes to better care for those residents who are approaching the end of their lives in the way that they receive the care they want, where they want it, protecting them from inappropriate hospital admissions and helping them to live well and die well in the place of their choice.

The Framework supports and works in tandem with RMBI’s ethos on end-of-life care. The RMBI ensures wherever possible those using its services are involved in planning for their end-of-life care. This includes ensuring people are able to have those relatives and friends who are important to them with them at the end of their life, and that they have a dignified death because staff are respectful of their need for privacy, dignity and comfort. Each person’s Care Plan records their wishes with regards to how their body and possessions are handled after their death, and staff respect their values and beliefs.

Diane Collins, manager of James Terry Court, said: ‘Staff at the Home now feel better equipped to deal with the challenging task of looking after residents in the later stages of their life. The GSF provides a useful structure for identifying, and then planning and assessing the care that the individual receives.’

Greater family satisfaction

Care homes that have received the GSF Quality Hallmark Award have demonstrated a halving of hospital deaths and crisis admissions, leading to greater satisfaction for families, residents and staff , and significant cost savings for the NHS.

To qualify for accreditation, staff at James Terry Court undertook the full GSF Care Home Training programme, usually conducted over a nine to twelve month period. This training was then embedded into the home for a further six months and followed by a rigorous accreditation process.

The accreditation is endorsed by all major care homes’ organisations and supported by Age UK. It is also now endorsed by the Skills Academy for Social Care.

All RMBI care homes will be going through the GSF accreditation process to achieve this national award to ensure they continue and build on the high-quality care provided.

 

Published in RMBI
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 16:13

Our Commitment To Care

The RMBI continues to invest in its care homes to ensure that they provide high levels of care to residents, continue to meet Government regulations and remain competitive within the sector.
     RMBI care home James Terry Court in Croydon is currently being rebuilt on site with Phase 1, the East Wing, due to be completed in Summer 2011. The new East Wing facilities will provide up to 47 bedsitting rooms with large communal areas. It will include full en suite wet rooms and ceiling hoists in large, spacious bedrooms, which exceed the Government minimum requirements.
     Phase 2 will involve the rebuild of the West Wing, which will begin this Summer and complete in 2012. It will provide a further 28 bedrooms and will also include remodeling and refurbishing of the Home’s main building to provide assisted living flats, where people can live independently with the full knowledge that care is available nearby.
     The Home will provide residential, nursing and dementia care and will boast new dining facilities, health and beauty room and reception. The work has been phased so that the current 39 residents face minimum disruption during the building works.
Published in RMBI

ugle logoSGC logo