A milestone in local care for the elderly – nursing home ‘Horsfall House’ – 25 years on
PACT Property & Assets Ltd director and Horsfall House Board Director, Chris Price MRICS, reflects on 25 years of care in the community as the home celebrates its silver jubilee
Located in Minchinhampton, a small Cotswold town close to Stroud, the home has come a long way from its inception in the 1980’s to its current configuration. Initially a day center set up in the common room of a local sheltered housing unit it quickly became apparent that there was an urgent need for good quality local community care.
Due to the foresight and aspirations of a local doctor, Dr Chris Booth, an ambitious fundraising program was put in place, a site found – gifted by Miss Jean Horsfall – and in 1994 the home opened. Initially the home provided day care for the elderly, and residential nursing care for 22 physically infirm and 8 people with severe memory problems.
The ethos of the home is to provide the very highest level of care to those who require full time care either due to physical infirmity or who are suffering from dementia or severe memory loss.
THE IN BETWEEN YEARS
Following several extensions to the original building the home now provides 44 bedrooms of which 22 are general nursing and 22 for those suffering from dementia and severe memory problems. The home in its current form has probably reached its optimum size as further extensions would create operational problems with long walking distances for staff and residents from bedrooms to communal areas.
In addition to the residential care the busy day center offers social and physical activities 6 days per week and the Home-care service providing top quality care for those who can remain in their homes with a little assistance.
RUNNING OF THE HOME
While a registered charity the home is run on a commercial basis. It, however, is not looking to make a return on the capital invested. As with most homes there is a mixture of private and local authority funded clients with the home further supported by local fundraising events.
Over the last few years the greatest challenge has been attracting suitably trained staff to fill the many roles undertaken with an increasing reliance on agency staff which greatly increases costs. This problem is a product of the rural location of the home, the lack of “local” labour available, or willing to work, in this sector and the effect of Brexit making the UK a less attractive place to work. Steps, such a helping with travel costs and increasing pay rates for night work, have helped but not solved the problem.
The future of the home is bright but it is not isolated from wider difficulties affecting the care sector. In the UK, an ageing population is placing ever increasing demands on an already stretched social care system; the sector is under-funded with many commercially run homes having to close; the current rates paid by local authorities are not sufficient to provide the level of care needed and the cross subsidy by privately funded patients can cause resentment.
While the current Conservative government has promised a further £1 billion each year towards the local authority funded system this will not solve the problem and it is likely that the state will have to take a larger role.
THE EFFECT OF COVID-19 ON THE HOME
As with all care homes Horsfall House has not been able to avoid the devastating effects of this terrible disease on those suffering from dementia and related illnesses. Pressure has come from all sides. The greatest strain, however, has been borne by the management team and the care staff who have had to deal with the day to day issues of looking after the residents in a Covid secure environment. The team at Horsfall have been magnificent.
While the government have made grants available to the sector Covid has created financial pressures for many homes which may well in the future affect the availability of beds. We are lucky that, as a well-funded charity, the home can ride out the current pandemic however there will be others that, sadly, will unlikely fare so well.
HORSFALL HOUSE; A MODEL FOR THE FUTURE?
When considering the care of the elderly and most vulnerable within our society is it right that the firms should profit or is the ’not for profit’ model better suited?
The 25 years of successful operation at Horsfall House has proved that the locally run charitable trust model successfully delivers quality care matched to local needs. The home owes its success largely to the dedication and foresight of the founders, the skill and enthusiasm of the unpaid trustees and directors, the fundraisers and the exceptional management team and staff.
While not immune from the stresses of the sector I have no doubt that the home will still be thriving in a further 25 years’ time.
More Information: link to a web page (GREEN)
RELATED ARTICLES: links here (navy)
Chris Price is lead director at PACT Property & Assets Ltd
and Board Director at local nursing home, Horsfall House,
with more than 30 years experience in the property and
corporate recovery sectors
T: 0117 456 8775
M: 07979 541215
CHRIS PRICE BSc. (Hons) MRICS, NARA