This year is the eightieth anniversary of the foundation of Methodist Homes, now MHA, spawned by the idea and passion of Reverend Walter Hall. He had seen that many older people had suffered through the 1930s because they could no longer work for money to sustain themselves and any dependents. The fear was that you might need to go into a workhouse – where regimes are represented as being grim.
So the response of the Methodist Church was to open a care home in Wallington run on Christian principles and with a lively regime of healthy food, exercise and other activities. Ryelands, Wallington | Residential & Dementia Care Home | MHA.
The project was a success and other Homes were established across the country. Today MHA has 3,896 beds in Care Homes. Their quality and good reputation is confirmed by The Care Quality Commission (CQC)
But care of older people should not be confined to Care Homes – from the 1970s MHA began to offer independent living in Sheltered Accommodation – now running to 2,763 people.
From the 1980s MHA has supported people in their own homes through community teams – currently over 11,400 people are registered with such schemes.
There is now a retirement village in Scotland, and since the beginning of the Covid Crisis, people are contacted and supported within Digital Communities. Some Homes specialise in the care of people with dementia. Music therapy is well received by MHA, who have conducted research which demonstrates it effectiveness. Other art-based activities flourish in Care Homes and in the other modes of care.
Every Care Home has a chaplain who will lead services and provide pastoral care for individuals and for families.
There is a tradition of integration with local Methodist Churches – a source of enrichment to Church and Care Home.
The best principles of care which have been pioneered by MHA are to be seen in other care agencies and within the NHS.
The challenge is large and requires a properly funded and resourced national range of services – from education and enabling, to end of life care:
England is home to over 11 million people aged 65 or older.
Although older people are better off than were old people in the past, it is still said that 1 in 5 live in relative poverty.
Most unhappily conditions in this country have seen the quality of life in old age, and even life expectation, deteriorate.
MHA joins with other agencies now to lobby for improvements in the conditions for older people of all ages, social class, gender, faith and ethnicity.
Need at this time for the work of charities such as MHA to respond to failure of mainstream services to face the needs of the people.