I’d like to start by thanking all our residents, their families, and my staff for working together over these last 18 months and more as we have all faced the challenges of this pandemic.

During the summer we were slowly able to re-open some of our facilities and activities including re-introducing our lunch club for our sheltered residents at Whitgift House. I have been delighted to see the return of summer garden parties as well as joint events across Whitgift Care with residents attending Foundation Schools’ concerts.

We are still having to proceed cautiously considering the new variant and associated guidelines while doing our best to embrace the Christmas spirit. We are decorating our homes and planning several events including carol concerts, a Christmas lunch and a whole range of activities led by our activities team.

Of course, our main priority is to keep everyone safe with the pandemic looking like it is far from over. I am delighted to report that all staff working at Whitgift House, Wilhelmina House and the Whitgift Almshouses have been double vaccinated.

We are proud we have achieved this and unlike other organisations have not been required to try and re-deploy staff or let them go in line with the new government direction for care home staff.

This has been a real team effort and I would like to make a particular mention to our dedicated GP, Dr Wilcock, who has been pivotal in ensuring staff take up the vaccines by listening to concerns, answering questions and even arranging a one-to-one meeting with them – all while remaining a very busy local GP.

We have now re-convened our Winter Planning Group which is led by our Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) specialist prioritising residents’ safety, particularly focusing on infection prevention and control measures, and advising me and the Foundation on latest government and Public Health England guidance, and more importantly, how to interpret it to meet the needs of our community.

I am delighted to announce we have just appointed a new Home Manager for Whitgift House, Iwona Zarzycka who joins us on 4th January 2022. Iwona met many staff and residents during the interview process who were won over by her enthusiasm, engagement, and warm personality. Iwona joins us with excellent experience in home care management. She is looking forward to meeting everyone when she joins the team. As we have just come through a change management programme to focus on providing a more operationally and financially efficient service, I believe Iwona will work well with Vessie and the team to build on the sense of family we have always enjoyed at Whitgift House.

Work has also begun on developing a strategy for Whitgift Care for the next 5 to 10 years working with our staff, head office and Governors.

Both these projects are vital to ensure that Whitgift Care continues to deliver outstanding care for older people to meet the demands of a changing health and social care environment and the expectation of the elderly who we care for. This provides an exciting opportunity to lead in the care we offer being more innovative, widening our portfolio and working in partnership with other providers to explore new areas such as dementia and domiciliary care. This work is endorsed and welcomed by our Governors of the Care Committee and Chair, Dr Anand Mehta, shares his thoughts on the future of Whitgift Care on page 10.

Finally, I am thrilled that we are continuing our fundraising efforts for the Smile Train for Whitgift Care’s charity of the year 2022. To date, a magnificent £1,200 has been raised and a cheque will be presented to a representative from the Smile Train in December following a whole host of activity including a coffee morning, raffle, sponsored slim and the sale of Christmas cards and piccalilli made by Whitgift House residents.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a joyful and peaceful Christmas.

With very best wishes,

Dolores Pickersgill, Director of Care

about Whitgift Care

Whitgift Care Homes: The Whitgift Almshouses, Whitgift House and Wilhelmina House, are happy, thriving and secure communities where staff are on hand 24 hours a day to provide the highest standards of care. Within Whitgift Care, we like to call ourselves a family where our core values of respect, dignity and privacy are our priority.

If you are considering care for yourself or a loved one, Whitgift Care is a place you can call home.

To find out more about Whitgift Care you can contact us, email enquiries@whitgiftcare.co.uk or call us on 020 8256 1596.

This article is featured in Whitgift Care News Winter 2021 newsletter.