Methodist Homes for the Aged (MHA) is a charity providing care homes, housing and support services for over 12,500 older people throughout Britain. MHA is not just for Methodists; about 50% of MHA residents are Christian, of which about 50% are Methodists. Last year MHA celebrated its 65th anniversary – and this was especially significant for Ryelands, the home in Wallington, in our own church circuit, because Ryelands was the very first MHA care home.
To meet changing needs and current standards, Ryelands was completely rebuilt in 2004 to create a modern two-storey building in its own grounds and which now provides three kinds of facility: residential care in the part still called Ryelands; dementia care in the Brooklands wing; and self-contained retirement flats in Moorlands.
Typical residents’ single rooms at Ryelands are larger than found in many care homes, and include a kitchenette and en-suite shower room. Social activities mainly take place in the ground-floor lounge, which serves also as the chapel for mid-week and Sunday services. There is a dining room, a music room and a craft room.
A new manager has recently been appointed and the senior team under her reorganised. As well as the care staff, Ryelands has an activities coordinator and also a chaplain.
Ryelands is not far away and if you would like to get involved in supporting the home there are various ways of doing so. The Ryelands Support Group, for which I am Epsom church’s representative, organises a summer Fête and a Christmas Fair and raises funds to provide little extras for the residents, such as hiring a minibus for an outing. You can also leave small donations for the Support Group in the embroidered ‘penny pouch’ on the top left of the information display in the welcome area of the church.
Ryelands’ chaplain, Elizabeth Fleischer, is setting up an organised volunteer group. Applicants will need to undergo suitability checks and will be properly trained in how to assist elderly residents with their activities within or outside the home, such as accompanying them on local shopping trips.
If you would like to find out more, I can put you in touch with Elizabeth. Separately, if you have a skill or interest which you think you might contribute as one of the scheduled activities, I can introduce you to the activities coordinator, Dawn Sleeman. There is currently a shortage of musical assistance, such as for playing the piano. I myself have visited to entertain the residents and to help revive old memories by playing records from the 30s and 40s on my collection of wind-up gramophones – and I even get asked back again!