SISTERS FIGHT TO CONTINUE CARE FOR ELDERLY
the government raised national minimum standards in Care Homes for the elderly
in 2000, the implications for nursing homes was felt throughout the country. With
tens of thousands of home care beds closing in the past few years, the Sisters
who operate one nursing home in Chiswick took dramatic steps to ensure its continued
Sister Jennifer in a digger gets the building work
Mary's Convent and Nursing Home in Chiswick has been looking after the most vulnerable
members of society, the aged and infirm, since 1910. Actively supported by Florence
Nightingale in its early years, the convent and hospital were built around 1896
to give residents respite from the soot and dust of the inner city. St Mary's
is today a thriving care community, with 61 people aged between 65 and 102 living
in private rooms in the residential part of the building or in wards in the nursing
home, cared for by eight Sisters and 75 staff.
Care Standards Act of 2000 required that all nursing home residents have individual
rooms with en-suite bathrooms. However, since St Mary's has two open care wards,
there was the distinct possibility that it would lose its licence to operate as
a nursing home unless the accommodation was altered in line with the new regulations.
Following extensive talks with surveyors and architects, it was decided that an
extension must be built to accommodate the additional single rooms required and
work done to enhance the existing facilities.
Mary's operates as a strictly non-profit making charity, and so the Sisters and
their supporters threw themselves into the task of raising the £1.7 million
required to cover the cost of the necessary alterations and keep the nursing home
open. To date they have managed to raise just over half the amount through their
savings, fund-raising events and donations from private individuals, local businesses,
churches and schools.
23rd July, 2002, the Health Minister, Alan Milburn, suggested that there may be
some relaxation in the guidelines laid down by the Care Standards Act. Having
consulted the Care Standards inspectors, however, St Mary's learned that it would
still lose its license to operate if the existing open wards are not replaced
and building work is not completed, and so the fund-raising continues. Building
work on the project began at the end of September and is matched in earnest only
by the frenetic fund-raising activities organized by the convent as it tries to
keep pace with the programme, for which a sizeable bank loan has been raised.
The funds need to be raised as quickly a possible in order to mitigate interest
planned over the next few months include a champagne reception prior to the viewing
and sale of a painting collection; musical recitals; several Christmas functions
and a Burns Night in January 2003. Help and donations are always welcome. UK tax
payers can help even more by completing a gift aid form which increases their
donation by 28% at government expense!
more information on the work of St Mary's, the events and its vital fund-raising
efforts to survive, please contact Sister Jennifer Anne at St Mary's Convent and
Nursing Home, Burlington Lane, Chiswick, London W4 2QE. 020 8994 4641
Mary's Convent Nursing Home
Nursing Home Threatened with Closure
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