Islanders Attend Methodist Homes Meeting

Reverend Peter Slee

Islanders yesterday heard a chaplain from the Methodist Homes charity talk passionately about their two elder-care homes in Bristol.

The charity is an extra-care provider who could potentially partner with our Council to offer a modern approach to elder care, combing sheltered accommodation, nursing and care home requirements.

Council Chairman Mike Hicks said he was impressed with the local interest and the 40-strong turnout was too much for The Manse so the meeting was moved to the Methodist chapel.

Visiting chaplain, Reverend Peter Slee, explained that Methodist Homes, or MHA, was formed in 1943 and aims to improve the quality of life for older people from a “place of Christian concern”, although he says that people aren’t judged on faith or lifestyle.

Everybody is treated as a person and they try to avoid an institutionalized approach. Meals and bed times for those who require assistance meet individual preferences and don’t run at a set time.

Reverend Slee says moving to residential care means people may lose their home, independence and even their friends and part of the MHA’s work is helping residents come to terms with change and helping them to realise it’s a natural part of growing old.

Old school site at Carn Thomas, earmarked for elder care housing scheme

He added that MHA also advocate tackling questions about age and death through an approach where they acknowledge what they call “the final lap.”

Council Officer Aisling Hick felt that the project could offer positive benefits. Her visits to some care homes recently made her realise that there were gains rather than losses. She said sharing a centre and social activities with friends was more like university.

Reverend Slee added that MHA homes tried to stimulate their residents with events like community singing, which is important in maintaining memory. Their Bristol homes engage the local community and their newest development featured a public-access coffee bar.

Sue Williams asked about publicity material, which stated that the charity was financially secure and independent of government. She asked whether they had worked with other local authorities before and she was told that they had. MHA mix charitable income with resident fees, which are comparable to charges in the commercial sector.

But the business approach concerned Len Michel because of the small size of our community. He wondered whether a scheme would viable if it just relied on locals.

Aisling Hick said there would need to be up to 40 units and there would probably be nomination rights, which would offer locals first refusal, and then people with links to Scilly would be next on the waiting list.

 

Finding Partner Is Next Step

 

Staff can make a real difference – attendees heard that management influences the mood and feeling of the individual mainland sites visited recently. Reverend Slee feels that people could be found on the islands to work on a local scheme and MHA could offer them good training. Aisling added that the project would include provision for worker housing.

Finding a partner is the next step. Mike Hicks said they would need to plan out what’s required and how the Carn Thomas site could be used. And he thinks it’s better planning for what is affordable – additional elements can be added later. They also need to find a partner that is happy with the additional Scilly building costs.

Reverend Slee said the MHA could partner with our Council on a project here but they are not trying to build a chain of homes or expand vigorously. They want to “provided care carefully.”