Latest News 1/7/20
Socially distanced 60th wedding anniversary celebration at Maurice House in Broadstairs
RAF veteran Phillip Palmer, 86, has been able to see his wife Norma for a special visit to celebrate the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary. The visit was made possible by staff at Maurice House, The Royal British Legion care home where Phillip lives. He is currently shielding due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Maurice House, in Broadstairs, provides nursing, personal care and short-term respite care for the Armed Forces community and their families.
Norma said, “It meant the world to me that we got to spend our 60th anniversary together. It has been difficult not being able to see him in person, but the nurses and staff here at Maurice House did everything they could to make my visit possible.”
Phillip said, “It was lovely seeing my wife. I love her so much.”
Tracy Tremble, Care Home Manager at Maurice House said, “We are so pleased that Phillip was able to see his wife on this special anniversary. During the Covid-19 pandemic the safety and well-being of our residents and staff is our highest priority, and it is so important for morale that we can facilitate visits like this. Now more than ever it is crucial that those who have served and sacrificed for us are looked after.”
The Legion currently operates a portfolio of six care homes, providing 450 residents with high quality residential, nursing and specialist dementia care.
The slow return to a whole range of new “normals” is continuing, New beneficiaries are joining our homes and becoming part of TRBL family. Visits from loved ones are taking place and furloughed staff will be returning to their roles in the near future. Whilst all of this will take place under the strictest of pandemic rules, we can all hope that this signals a clear start of a return to easier times.
As a small part of TRBL’s volunteer force at our six care homes, you will have gathered that I can be evangelical about all they continue to achieve. However, this week I had the opportunity to hear a couple of different perspectives in phone calls from members of the Galanos House family. In the sure knowledge that these stories are replicated across our group of award-winning homes, this is what I heard.
W has been a resident for a while now and become part of the fabric of life at GH. From the outset, W soaked up the activities and entertainment that was on offer. Genuinely forthright, as the majority of veterans are, W created a newsletter and sought out the experiences of residents/volunteers alike to further enhance the atmosphere and unity at GH. In the bar at night W regularly poses interesting questions/riddles to the group causing astonishment and laughter when the simplicity of the solution is revealed. As always his personality shone through during our chat this week, we discussed the state of the world, the comings and goings at GH and a joyful assertion of how lucky he was to be at GH. W said to me “We are all one big family now, it will be strange when the volunteers return, staff and residents are coming through this together, they care for us so wonderfully, it is only fair that we care about them, it is very happy here!”. I cannot wait to return.
L has been part of the staff at GH for many months now, it is no exaggeration to say that the role L successfully applied for last year disappeared pretty quickly once the pandemic crept up behind us. Yet, 19 weeks later, I could hear the fulfilment in L’s voice as the praise for her colleagues was talked about and the compassion towards the residents came out. L said, “I look forward to you meeting our new residents, they are lovely!” So do I.
So, all the best of humanity, confronted by a huge challenge, seems writ large across all our homes and, in a quiet corner of South Warwickshire, one evangelical fan is enormously proud.
As you can see from the photographs throughout this article, the daily miracles that occur at all Royal British Legion retirement homes continue unabated. Along with other carers/members of staff throughout the social care sector, these super-dedicated people have accomplished wonderful levels of care that, a few months ago, many would have thought impossible. Those of us who have watched from the sidelines, whilst not surprised, have been rendered speechless at the compassionate, unselfish and innovative care our residents have been given. Furthermore, over the last months, the wider families/friends of our beneficiaries have also had superlative support in the way vital channels of communication have become part of the daily routine.
Not even the brightest minds know exactly where we are on this journey, however, it will not be a sprint. The good news is that some of the recent restriction changes have given our homes some room to manoeuvre. Some new residents are starting to join us, socially distanced alfresco visiting is taking place and it won’t be too long before some shielded staff are able to resume their duties. Obviously, all precautions will still be in place and these changes will not be immune from any locally mandated lockdowns in the future. Nonetheless, progress is being made safely and surely.
None of our homes has been immune from the economic effects of COVID 19, the facts and figures surrounding the provision of PPE and the exponential rise in costs and quantities required are staggering. This challenge will be with us for some time to come and whilst you can be sure that TRBL has done everything in its power to mitigate the impact; we are actively seeking further support to lessen the burden. I urge all of our membership to think of PPE when going about any Legion activities and spreading the word. My heartfelt thanks go to all of you who have already generated support.
Please stay safe, best regards,
Volunteers from UK Mask Force (UKMF) have made a delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Royal British Legion’s Dunkirk Memorial House in Bishops Lydeard. The team at the care home provide nursing and personal care, and short-term respite care, for the Armed Forces community and their families.
The delivery last week, which included 1,250 masks and 250 bottles of hand sanitiser, was the first of six UKMF drops at Legion care homes across the UK. Dunkirk Memorial House care home manager Anne Lewin said: “The Royal British Legion and all of us at Dunkirk Memorial House would like to thank UK Mask Force for providing us with additional PPE. “During the Covid-19 pandemic, the safety and well-being of our residents and staff is our highest priority. Now more than ever it is crucial that those who have served and sacrificed for us are looked after. This kind donation will help ensure we can continue providing critical support to those who are most at risk.”
So far the not-for-profit organisation has delivered more than 14,000 masks and sanitisers to health facilities across the UK. UKMF director William Ralston-Saul said: “UK Mask Force made a very successful visit to the Royal British Legion Care Home, Dunkirk Memorial House, to deliver a large number of masks and bottles of hand sanitiser. “Mask Force is a charity operated primarily by former servicemen who have been supplying PPE to care homes and NHS doctors’ practices throughout the country.
“Several former servicemen, led by Lieutenant General Louis Lillywhite, the former Surgeon General of the British Armed Forces, turned up for the handover of PPE. Wearing regimental berets and medals it was a moving event outside Dunkirk House in the home’s splendid grounds.”
To find out more or to donate to UK Mask Force visit ukmaskforce.co.uk Alternatively, if in need of PPE email [email protected]
Squeeze singer Chris Difford supports ‘COOL CAT’ Noah to raise money for Mais House
Chris Difford, frontman of the rock band Squeeze, joined 7-year-old Noah Owen and his father over Zoom to sing ‘Cool for Cats’ in order to raise money for the residents at The Royal British Legion Care Home Mais House in Bexhill-on-Sea. Chris took lead vocals while Noah and his father, Lee, who is the head of activities at Mais House, sang the ‘Cool for Cats’ backing vocals. 7-year-old Noah is currently fundraising for Mais House by learning and singing 30 new songs in 30 days, which his father records and uploads on the Mais House RBL Youtube channel for the residents to watch and sing-a-long with.
Across TRBL Care Homes Group this week, we had cakes for carers. sporting memories and exercise classes featuring heavily across all the Activities Teams.
Shielded from events outside, our staff continue to provide 1st class care to all our residents. There has been an increase in stability across the group, fewer shocks and more time to reinforce the defences against COVID-19. As in the outside world starts to take tentative steps towards the end of a long tunnel; plans across the group are in the very early stages to maintain the safety of all our staff and residents whilst preparing to offer more support to a wider group of people in the future.
Alongside these very tough decisions, we can only hope that the future of social care receives the attention and funding it so deserves; in order to give our decision-makers the opportunity to build on our past and current successes thereby leading the way in the future.
Regards and stay safe,
Noah aged six brings a smile to residents at Royal British Legion home in Bexhill.
Six-year-old Noah Owen from Bexhill has won praise for his heartwarming efforts to raise the spirits of the residents at The Royal British Legion Poppy Home Mais House during the lockdown.
Together with dad Lee, Noah has been uploading daily videos on the Mais House RBL Youtube channel showing himself singing, dancing and going on adventures in an effort to bring the residents joy and happiness. The residents at Mais House gather every day at 10.30am to watch Noah’s videos . Noah featured on ITV news recently, which filmed Noah and his father, Lee, singing ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head’ while the television footage showed the residents at Mais House singing along.
Noah usually visits the residents at Mais House twice a week to take part in activities, but because of the lockdown, he was worried that the residents might miss him. It was Noah’s idea to start the Youtube channel. He said: “I enjoy making the videos because the residents can watch them and stay safe”. Noah’s father Lee said: “Noah brings such joy to the residents when he visits them and these videos allow them to still hear his infectious laughter everyday”.
Since the broadcast, Noah and his father are going to perform on a charity single to raise money for the NHS, and have also been featured in videos and stories by The Telegraph and have reached well over 20k views on The Royal British Legion social media platforms. The pair have also featured in some hilarious ‘dad dancing’ videos on Youtube with Noah teaching his dad some dance moves.
Noah makes videos to sing happy birthday to residents and also tells jokes. The aim of the videos is to improve the residents’ mental wellbeing and stave off loneliness and isolation. Lee said: “Noah is the star of all this. He’s brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people. I’m a very proud father.” Mais House, at Hastings Road, Bexhill, is the only Royal British Legion home in Sussex and earlier this month held a special party and celebration to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. If you would like to have your spirits raised by Noah, please visit the Mais House RBL Youtube channel to watch his videos
With Summer approaching it is wonderful to witness the efforts being made on behalf of the residents. All of the teams at each of our care homes are successfully moving heaven earth on a daily basis to keep the sun shining for all members of the RBL Care Homes family.
I hope the summer months start to see some of the pressure starting to ease. Whatever happens, the new normals we all face will be met head-on with new ways of working becoming the norm. The RBL Care Homes are best placed to continue their history of award-winning and innovative veterans care and will no doubt develop sector-leading approaches to the challenges ahead.
The success of VE Day 75 across the RBL was a triumph after all the changes that were forced on us due to COVID-19. The televised broadcast was a delight, especially as two of our care home residents featured in the national output. The local press gave a lot of coverage to all our homes with the Forces Network doing TRBL proud.
One wish we should all have is encapsulated in this excerpt from the “Ode to the Unseen Care Worker” as featured in an article on The National Care Forum Website “I am not sure that you, the unseen care worker, ever asked for the claps and the cheers – but I am sure they are welcome. However, what would be more welcome would be institutional recognition of just how skilled and vital you are to the fabric of our community. That recognised in status and salary that when the call to care for the most vulnerable came forward – you were there – as you always have been – and took it on in spades. If ever there was a moment for reflection, a moment where every politician who has lauded the work of care staff as vital to the fight, a moment where we need our government to understand that words mean actions – then this is it. Think long and hard about what these amazing individuals are contributing each and every minute of this hard-fought battle and consign the derogation of care workers as low skilled – and as a result, low paid – to annals of history. That would be a thank you that meant something…..”
Best regards and stay safe,
Young and old, family means everything in times such as these. The smallest of gestures can make the biggest impact. RBL Maurice House has made sure members of their wider community are not left behind. The card reads “We are sending you a little gift to show you that we care. It’s a little hug from us to you for while we can’t be there. With love from your Maurice Family.” A lovely way to keep in touch residents’ families and loved ones.
Across our six care homes, day by day, all our residents continue to receive the very best in personal care and support.
Religious services, coffee mornings, calls home, big skies to gaze into, all there to give our beloved residents as much of life as possible. At every turn, the staff move heaven and earth to ensure no-one is left behind.
When we get to the other side of the current crisis I am positive the 20/20 brigade will be happy to let everyone know where they went wrong. However, there will be an opportunity to call for better funding models for social care, ensuring the quality that our homes aspire to, becomes the norm for everyone. As members/supporters of The Royal British Legion, you will all have the opportunity to lend your voices to the call. When you do; you can be sure that you will be backed up by a proven history of excellence in Veterans care with an aspirational and ambitious approach to the future.
Best regards and stay safe,
A big thank you to the St James’s Branch members who have been in contact over recent weeks, all your kind words regarding our homes have been featured on the St James’s Branch social media platforms. As much as some reports in the wider media have been a little unsettling to the UK-wide care home community, it has been my impression that, across our six homes, the extra challenges they are facing are being met in their customary proportionate and professional way, albeit with a huge amount of superhuman effort by all concerned.
As much as planning and preparedness play a huge part in the continued success of our homes, the ability to react to every situation quickly, on a daily basis, is one of the biggest strengths our homes possess. The support offered by the RBL Care and Recovery Directorate has meant that all challenges, personal, on-site or across the RBL Care Home family have been surmountable. Old age and infirmity bring many challenges and compromises, it has long been my experience that our care homes group mitigates these issues more than most.
Lee, Head of Activities at Mais House, Bexhill-on-Sea has very kindly been touch to update me on the perspective from her base of operations.
Managers at Mais House would like to thank all of the staff at The Royal British Legion Poppy home Mais House in Bexhill-on-Sea.
The residents at Mais House are being looked after 24/7 by a dedicated frontline team who are working tirelessly to enrich the lives of our beneficiaries. It is so important that their dedication and commitment is being acknowledged and that all staff at Mais House are celebrated for being the wonderful health professionals that they are.Nurses and carers are providing world-class care, housekeeping staff are making sure that the home is clean and ensure our residents’ clothes are laundered just to their liking, the kitchen team are cooking and baking delicious food at every meal time, maintenance staff are keeping equipment running smoothly, admin are ensuring that all financial and computing systems are running properly and meaningful activities are being provided by the activities team at all times in groups and one-to-one.Residents are keeping in contact with their relatives through Skype and are receiving pictures from children and letters of support from the public daily. Each day the residents are treated to a video message from a six-year-old boy named Noah who sings, tells jokes and dances. He also explores UK landmarks in videos which were shot in 2019 such as the I360 in Brighton and educates viewers about subjects which he is passionate about such as Sea Monsters and the weather. The name of the YouTube account is Mais House RBL and here is a link to one of the videos. 2 ‘Lord the Light of your Love is Shining’ by The Singers + jokes. Greetings to residents video twoThere is also lots to look forward to each week as social-distancing entertainers (such as an opera singer, county and western singer and keyboard player) are performing on the patio or in the garden. Exercise sessions involving both residents and staff are taking place to keep joints mobile and morale high and colourful rainbows adorn windows everywhere, showing support for frontline staff all over the country and the world.Kind regardsLee
Very best regards and stay safe,
A message from Tracy Tremble, Registered Manager, Maurice House
I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well during this difficult period.
During the Covid-19 outbreak the safety and well-being of the elderly and most vulnerable in our community is our highest priority. The support and services provided by The Royal British Legion’s care homes has never been more important, and I’m very proud to be one of the 750 staff and volunteers who work within our six care homes. Every day our staff and volunteers do all that they can to keep our residents safe and well in a professional and caring environment.
With the London Marathon and many other fundraising events cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re asking our Members and supporters to help us in a new way and take part in the 2.6 challenge on behalf of The Royal British Legion.
From Sunday 26 April people across the UK will be taking on The 2.6 Challenge – a nationwide event, launching on the date the London Marathon should have taken place, raising funds to help the UK’s charities.
We’re asking you to take part in an activity of your choice based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 and to raise vital funds to support work in our care homes and with the vulnerable in our communities:
If the challenge isn’t your thing but you’d like to help, you can donate £26, or whatever you can afford here.
Now more than ever it is crucial that those who have served and made sacrifices for us are looked after. We are asking all those who can to take part in the 2.6 challenge and help fund our vital work providing 450 veterans and their dependants with residential, nursing and specialist dementia care.
On behalf of all the staff and volunteers in our care homes I’d like to thank every one of our Members for all that you do to support us. We’re proud to have you on our team.
The recent news cycles over the weekend have brought the herculean efforts being made across the care sector into sharp focus. We can only hope that the scrutiny this brings will reinforce the requirement for improved funding for the sector and highlight the need for a complete review of the services we are able to offer all the UK’s retired communities.
Across our six homes, the flexible, compassionate and professional approach adopted by every member of staff continues to insulate our residents from events in the wider community. Social media platforms are proving to be increasingly important in keeping families and loved ones in contact; whilst the modern technology of a smartphone has given an extra dimension to the vital lifeline of personal contact.
It is important for all of us to remember what goes on behind the cameras and phonecalls, recognising the unique sector-leading care the Royal British Legion is able to provide. The individual acts of care provided by each member of staff are proving to be as valuable to our residents’ wellbeing as they have ever been, our heartfelt thanks go to all of them. This weeks group of photos will give you a flavour of all that is being accomplished.
Regards and stay safe,
Care Homes Care 24/7 #devotion247
A Message from the Director-General
It can all feel like a roller coaster at the moment. There are real challenges for us all as we try to look after our loved ones and do the best we can in our work. The global news is tough and it is impossible not to worry for the future. But this week I have been speaking to members and colleagues across the Legion, and whilst of course there are challenges, all I have heard is how we are facing them and fixing them step by step and delivering amazing support, drawing strength from our families and caring for those in our communities.
One of the people I spoke with this week was Jo-Anne Wilson, Manager at Galanos House. Our care homes are on the very front line at the moment, caring for the most vulnerable. Please watch this short video as Jo shows us how they are getting on:
Resilience is not just about how we just endure, but rather it comes from understanding how we recharge ourselves. Listening to and sharing these stories gives me great hope for the future. Whatever lies ahead this is how we build a strong community and country and we all have a part to play.
Thank you for your courage and commitment in this time. I hope you get the chance to recharge over the next few days.
It has amazed me how quickly I have started to lose track of the days of the week! As new routines take over, albeit, at a slowing pace, it has led me to think of our residents across the country. In a strange way, the situation that now confronts us isn’t that dissimilar to their lives in the surroundings of our care homes. Or is it?
Over the last few days, the residents at our homes have enjoyed virtual bike rides, virtual live music streaming, woodland walks, news from home via social media, 5-star housekeeping, and there is always time for a fancy dress party! How incredible that the clouds that once hung over social media, as far as my (older) generation is concerned, have cleared to allow the sunshine of regular contact to lighten their days.
It is fantastic, but no surprise, that our residents are able to experience the support of such great teams of people. However, as I compare all of this to my coming days? I’m trying to find my shovel so I can start tunnelling in!
All the very best to each of you,
Royal British Legion Care Homes a Refuge at the Centre of the Storm
In these uncertain times where millions of us face new concerns on a daily basis, it is heartwarming to be able to report on the efforts being made on behalf of our residents across all of the Legion’s six care homes.
The refuge provided by our multi-award winning homes has long been the benchmark at which many other organisations in the sector aim for. The increased pressures they face being in “Lock Down”, without the extra hands of the cadre of volunteers, are being met with a wave of love, compassion and support from RBL staff who are successfully shielding our beneficiaries from the maelstrom outside. It is vital that we remember that once they finish their shift, (one where they may have been fulfilling various roles throughout) they then have to face another barrage as they head home.
These crises always generate heroism, thank goodness we have our own homegrown heroes at TRBL!
Digital media has come to the fore during this period and has an increasing role to play in the months to come. Communications to and from the world outside via social media have added poignancy during such times; when messages to our residents can be instant and in return, glimpses of the activities taking place give comfort to families at a distance. Volunteers are still able to play a role in reacting to the posts on digital platforms showing they recognise the huge efforts being made on behalf of our residents. Being able to bear witness to these interactions is a tonic in itself.
Over the coming weeks and months, we hope to bring you snippets of the activities at our homes. I hope you find some comfort in all of them.
So, for the time being, from behind the shield, I wish you all good health in all ways.
Very best regards,
In an exciting development, RBL St James’s Branch has agreed on a formal affiliation with all of the Royal British Legion’s six care homes.
The homes, including five with specialist dementia care, are designed to be a home from home for our residents and visitors. They have created warm and welcoming atmospheres, with spacious rooms, beautiful outdoor spaces and relaxing lounge areas. As care homes designed for veterans and their families, there is also a unique camaraderie and their residents often establish strong friendships and bond over their shared experiences.
As part of the affiliation, RBL St James’s Branch will be designating substantial funds annually, to support all the amenities teams in achieving satisfactory funding levels. The Operations Directorate along with the Head of Care Services will field all funding requests to St James’s and prioritise them by the perceived benefit to our residents. This will ensure that we will be able to target funding more efficiently.
Just as importantly this page has been created to enable all of our care homes to promote their award-winning initiatives, the unique events and activities they provide for their residents and demonstrate why all our homes have a unique place in the care and support of our veterans along with their families.
Whilst this affiliation does not supersede any relationships that any care homes have with RBL Branches local to them, it does offer membership to our residents/families should they want to join the Royal British Legion where there is no local option available.
We hope that we have many opportunities to tell our members about the countless stories that reinforce the notion that the Royal British Legion Care Homes are amongst the very best in the sector.