Tom Daley inspires care home trio to become 'knitting brothers' creating poppy display for Remembrance Day

Three care home residents who have been nicknamed the ‘knitting brothers’ have picked up their knitting needles to produce a woollen poppy memorial ahead of Remembrance Day.

WW2 knitting brothers produce poppy display for Hazelgrove Court Nursing Home. Credit: Hill Care.

Eric Starsmore, 80, Walter Ross, 88, and Peter Gibbon, 86, from Hazelgrove Court Nursing Home have knitted dozens of woollen poppies, which have been arranged into the famous Unknown Soldier Silhouette.

Mr Gibbon and Mr Ross both learned to knit during the Second World War when they produced warm clothing for soldiers fighting on the front line. Today they find knitting “therapeutic” and reflect how “knitting helped the wives and children” when the men went to war.

Mr Gibbon, who was 10 when the Second World War ended in 1945, said: “All children were expected to contribute to the war effort. Boys were taught to knit for our soldiers, and they would do this at school, which is when I learnt to knit.”

Mr Ross, who was 12 in 1945, said: “I remember knitting socks for the soldiers and being told this would prevent them from getting trench foot, which was very serious and could cause a soldier to lose their foot.

“My mam would knit balaclavas and talk about knitting for victory during the First World War, when she was a child.”

Mr Starsmore can recall his mother doing the same before he picked up the skill when he got older and remembers his mam knitting in the air raid shelter.

He said: “When I was old enough, she taught me to knit. In those days, it was more common for boys to knit.”

'I am very proud of how well our men have embraced this project'

It was while watching Olympian Tom Daley knit between competing in his diving during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this year that activity coordinator Sharon Lewis found out the three men could knit.

Ms Lewis said: “When wanting to do some knitting with our men I discovered Peter, Eric and Walter could all knit.

“We were watching Tom Daley knitting between competing and they told me they learned when they were younger.

“Both Peter and Walter had knit at school during the War and were keen to do a project that would reflect this. Peter said he can remember being told that you had to knit for Tommy, to keep the great war soldiers warm.

“So, we decided to knit poppies, as this year is a hundred years of the poppy, and cover a Tommy soldier in poppies. We will then get people to pay a pound a go to guess how many it took and donate the money to The Royal British Legion.

“We started calling Walter, Peter and Eric our ‘knitting brothers’ as they said how they have enjoyed knitting the poppies and how therapeutic they found it.

“They said on reflection how knitting must have helped the wives and children when the men went to war.

“I am very proud of how well our men have embraced this project and delighted with the finished picture.”

Visitors to the care home will be asked to guess how many poppies are on the display for £1 – with all proceeds going to The Royal British Legion.

10 Nov 2021

Ed Balls becomes a care worker in BBC documentary exposing social care in crisis

Ed Balls, the former Labour politician says he feels "guilty that as a government minister, I didn’t do more" as he stars in a new documentary that highlights the social care crisis.

Inside the Care Crisis With Ed Balls which airs tonight (November 8) on BBC2 shows former shadow chancellor and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ed Balls working as a care worker in the care home for a two-week period during the pandemic.

The two part series follows Mr Balls undergoing in-house training as a care worker, which includes having his own teeth cleaned by a care worker and having yoghurt spooned into his mouth before working a 12 hour shift.

In one scene, Mr Balls is seen washing and applying cream to a care home resident’s leg. Afterwards, he says: “I don’t think I have been that nervous for a long time. It’s just because I didn’t want to do it wrong because it’s her body, it’s her life, it’s her dignity. You so want to get that right.”

Mr Balls talks about how he "feels guilty" when he worked for the Labour government under Gordon Brown 15 years ago and how he failed to tackle the care sector crisis.

He said: “I feel guilty that as a government minister, I didn’t do more when I was in the treasury to find a solution."

“It was the realisation that I thought I knew what care was, and I didn’t. The fact is, either as a family member or an MP, I never got close to comprehending the intensity of the job.”

Viewers also see Mr Ball openly discuss his mother’s diagnosis of dementia and the family’s decision to move her into a care home three years ago.

'The two-part documentary shows warts and all'

The documentary was filmed in Saint Cecilia’s Nursing Home and Saint Cecilia’s Care Home in Scarborough in the midst of Covid-19 restrictions during the summer to provide an in-depth and “immersive” view of the current state of social care.

Managing director of Saint Cecilia's Care Group Mike Padgham said: “The result is an unflinching, two-part documentary that shows, warts and all the challenges facing social care at the moment.

“Above all, I think the documentary, over its two parts, poses the question: what value do we place on the care of our oldest and most vulnerable?

“I am grateful to our residents, their relatives and our staff for agreeing to take part in the documentary. Doing things like this does bring with it risk but we wanted to show the blood, sweat and tears that is shed to provide care in 2021.

“We did so to show people a snapshot of the situation. We were very careful; everyone gave consent and all the crew were tested and wore full PPE.”

Mr Padgham now hopes the documentary challenges the government and has invited both Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Social Care Minister Gillian Keegan to a question-and-answer session with presenter Ed Balls and the production team on 3 December.

Mr Padhgam said: “By inviting the secretary of state and minister to the screening event we hope to open constructive dialogue, offer solutions and discuss the many issues that the two programmes show.

“But we have to move forward and tackle the very real challenges that social care faces. As providers, we have many ideas and suggestions and need the government to listen and take action."

'The staffing crisis has been exacerbated by Brexit'

Mr Padgham says providers are working extremely hard to provide the best care in a sector that has seen more than £8bn cut from funding since 2010 and 1.5m people are living “without the care they need.”

The government has recently launched an adult social care recruitment campaign in a bid to fill the hole in the workforce caused by the pandemic, Brexit and mandatory vaccinations for care workers.

The government says more than 105,000 vacancies need to be filled currently and almost half a million extra job opportunities in adult social care are expected by 2035.

Mike Padgham. Credit: Saint Cecilia's Care Group.

Mr Padgham said: “The staffing crisis has been exacerbated by Brexit robbing the sector of overseas job applicants and people finding other, less stressful and better paid work elsewhere.

“If this documentary can help get the crisis in social care higher up the political agenda and bring about some positive change, it will have been well worth it.”

Inside the Care Crisis with Ed Balls will be shown tonight on BBC2 9pm.

09 Nov 2021

Care home nurse suspended over series of medication errors

A nurse has been suspended following a series of medication errors at a Bupa care home.

Michael Huxley, who was employed at the Newton Court Care Home between 23 October 2017 until his resignation on 23 February 2018, was given a six month suspension order with a review and a 18-month interim suspension order by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).

Mr Huxley was found to have made a series of medication errors while employed at the home between 13 November 2017 and 18 February 2018.

The care home nurse, who was not present at the hearing, had previously commented in an email: “I made mistakes, made errors. I am still haunted by that but am not and have never been dishonest… But as I said in my email I am not denying the fact I made those mistakes. I did not at the time. So if that is what you want I admit to charges and impairment.”

In reaching its decision, the NMC said: “The panel considered Mr Huxley’s lack of meaningful insight, remediation, or recognition of the impact of his failings on the profession. It reached the view that a suspension order for a period of six months would allow Mr Huxley the time he needs to reflect on the findings of this panel as to his misconduct and to take steps to remediate, if he so wished.”

Jacqui Farrington, Regional Director for Newton Court care home, told CHP: “We pride ourselves on our quality and compassionate care. The actions of this individual fell short of the high standards we expect. We acted quickly on our concerns, and they are no longer employed at the home.

“We proactively reported our concerns to the relevant authorities to prevent this from happening again.”

Bupa said it had proactively reported its concerns about Mr Huxley to the NMC and the DBS. The care home operator said Mr Huxley had resigned when concerns were raise about his performance.

08 Nov 2021

High Court hearing on government's 'failure to protect care home residents' from Covid adjourned till next year

A landmark legal action against the government, Public Health England and NHS England by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers died of Covid-19 in care homes during the pandemic, has been adjourned till next year.

Dr Cathy Gardner and her father Don Harris. Credit: Dr Cathy Gardner

The case was due to take place over four days from 19 October but the High Court said there was much more information that they had to consider than time allowed.

Dr Gardner said: “Although the previous judge ruled that the case could be heard in four days, the judges hearing the case this week decided that, because of the importance of the case and the volume of material, a longer hearing would be needed.

"This is likely to be early next year. Whilst the delay is frustrating, a longer trial will give us more opportunity to expose the detail of the government’s failings to the Court. A longer hearing will ultimately help justice to be done."

The pair launched their case on 12 June 2020 “for the many failures to protect care home residents”.

Dr Gardner, who has raised over £137,000 in crowdfunding to pay for the legal action, said: “It has been a long and hard road to get to this point. The government have resisted us at every turn and sought to conceal key documents that explained what advice they had been given and why they decided what they did."

Dr Gardner launched the legal action after her father Michael Gibson, 88, a retired registrar died at Cherwood House Care Centre in Oxfordshire on 3 April 2020.

In July 2020, Ms Harris joined the legal battle for justice after her father Don Harris who was a resident at Marlfield care home in Alton, Hampshire died of coronavirus on 1 May just days before she had planned a sailing trip in Portsmouth to celebrate his 90th birthday.

The test case argues that the government failed to protect care home residents from the three principal routes of transmission of Covid: infection by other residents, by external visitors to care homes, and by care home staff.

Dr Gardner who has a PhD in virology, said: “It is very clear, whatever Matt Hancock may have said, the residents of care homes were not provided with a protective ring.

"He knew they were the most at risk and yet he issued a policy that exposed them to the risk of losing their lives. Many did. My father did.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, between March and June 2020, more than 20,000 elderly and/or disabled care home residents in England and Wales, including the fathers of both of the claimants, died from Covid-19.

Ms Harris said that she does not want anyone else to go through what they went through as a family and says she feels “terrible guilt” and due to the government’s policy of transferring Covid patients from hospital to care homes she said “I feel as though he was locked in to die”.

In his introductory argument for the hearing, Jason Coppel QC said: ‘The government’s failure to protect it, and positive steps taken by the government which introduced Covid-19 infection into care homes, represent one of the most egregious and devastating policy failures in the modern era.’

‘This claim is a legal challenge to the government’s failure to protect care home residents and to the key policies and decisions which led to the shocking death toll. The most notorious of these policies is that of mass discharge of around 25,000 elderly and/or disabled patients from NHS hospitals into care homes – including the homes of the Claimants’ fathers – without Covid-19 testing or ensuring that suitable isolation arrangements were in place.

08 Nov 2021

Government launches recruitment campaign for adult social care

A ‘Made with Care’ recruitment campaign has been launched today by the government to encourage people to consider a career in adult social care, in a bid to fill the hole in the workforce caused by the pandemic, Brexit and mandatory vaccinations for care workers.

Credit: Department of Health and Social Care

The government said more than 105,000 vacancies need to be filled currently and almost half-a-million extra job opportunities in adult social care are expected by 2035., the UK’s leading care home jobs site, has seen the number of job vacancies more than double this year from 4,832 in January to 9,027 currently, with the combination of the pandemic, Brexit and mandatory vaccination all impacting on the workforce.

While care leaders from the sector welcome the government's recruitment campaign, they warn the planned 'no jab, no job' policy should be "postponed" or the sector will see "vulnerable people" facing the "dilemma" of not being able to "receive their assessed care needs."

The Independent Care Group (ICG) chair Mike Padgham said: “I’m sorry to say this recruitment drive will probably have as much impact as the little Dutch boy plugging the crack in the dam with his finger whilst someone else drills a big hole ten yards away!

“The government’s planned ‘no jab, no job’ policy is set to rob social care of up to 40,000 staff and should be halted or at least postponed.

“Brexit rules mean we can no longer recruit as easily from overseas and the sector should be allowed to bring in care workers from abroad under a visa scheme, as other sectors can.

“But the biggest issue of all is the historic underfunding of social care which means that social care workers do not get the rewards they deserve and people look at other, better paid and less stressful jobs – a situation that has been exacerbated because there are many other such jobs currently available.

“The government ignored the opportunity to put more money into social care and tackle the situation at last week’s budget and so we can only see the situation getting worse.

'Pause the implementation date for mandatory vaccinations ASAP'

Earlier this month, also revealed that nearly three-quarters of care home staff believe staffing pressures in their care homes will deteriorate further as a direct result of the government’s requirement for staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Executive chairwoman Nadra Ahmed from the National Care Association said: “The next logical step for ministers is to pause the implementation date for mandatory vaccinations ASAP.

“Procrastinating on this has brought us to the point where contracts are being handed back and care beds cannot be utilised to ease the pressure on the NHS as winter pressures hit.

“With staff set to exit next week, we will see vulnerable people facing the dilemma of not being able to receive their assessed care needs, and families feeling the anguish of trying to step in.”

Launching the Made with Care campaign, Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said: “Care workers have done a phenomenal job throughout the pandemic, in difficult circumstances, and I thank them for all they have done.

“A career in social care is rewarding and inspiring. Over the next three years we are investing at least £500 million to support the training and development for carers.

“We need more people who possess the core values this workforce embody so strongly - kindness, compassion and resilience - to look after our friends and family with dignity and respect.”

The launch of the recruitment campaign follows the announcement of £5.4bn of additional funding to reform social care over the next three years, including £500m to support training and career development for the workforce.

The campaign will run from November 2021 to March 2022 with a TV advert being premiered today on ITV, Sky and Channel 4 and shows real care workers making a difference in people’s lives, inspiring others to consider a career in care.

'We will be doing everything in our power to drive the campaign'

Professor Martin Green, chief executive for Care England said: "Care England welcomes Made with Care, the DHSC’s new recruitment campaign. This does however need to be seen in tandem with a long term strategy as to how we can recruit, retain and develop our workforce.

“Our workforce is our best resource and we need immediate, medium term and long term help to sustain and cherish it”.

Credit: Department of Health and Social Care

Gracewell and Sunrise care home group have over 350 vacancies across their homes, including in management positions. They are using the campaign to hire predominantly care assistants and nurses. However, they are also on the lookout for non-care roles such as laundry assistants, chefs, housekeepers and receptionists.

Helen, Shocker, recruitment business partner at Sunrise Senior Living UK & Gracewell Healthcare, said: “We welcome the government’s efforts to address the shortage of workers in the health and social care sector and we will be doing everything in our power to drive the campaign and bolster our own internal recruitment.”

Earlier this month, a report produced by Skills for Care showed how social care vacancy rates fell from eight per cent pre-Covid in March 2020 to just over six per cent in March 2021, it has gradually risen again reaching over nearly eight and a half per cent in August.

Oonagh Smyth, chief executive from Skills for Care said: “This campaign launches at a time when recruitment and retention is a key focus for adult social care. The recruitment challenges are evident and we have heard from many employers that recruitment and retention has been increasingly difficult in recent months.

“This campaign can play a vital role in raising awareness of the impact of social care on our communities and the rewarding opportunities that a career in social care offers.”

click here for more details or to contact Care England

04 Nov 2021


War veterans in care homes recall missions into 'hostile territory'

Veterans living in care homes have recounted their experiences of conflict in a short Remembrance film called ‘Conflict Never Stops’.

Care home resident and veteran Peter Lewis. Credit: Royal Star & Garter

The care home group Royal Star & Garter filmed residents who had served their country through the decades to hear their stories of war and conflict.

Royal Star & Garter gives support to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia in care homes in Solihull, Surbiton and High Wycombe. The Conflict Never Stops film features residents from all three of its homes.

Peter Lewis was a pilot in the 1950s and 1960s.

Mr Lewis said: “I was a low-level reconnaissance pilot. So that meant deep penetration into hostile territory to take a photograph.

“I was posted out to Aden [in Yemen] and from Aden flew all over Arabia really.”

Mr Lewis’ risky flights soon earned him the affectionate nickname ‘Prussian Pete’.

The remembrance video starts with Florence Mahoney who tells the camera: “When I was 19 the government decided to take all single women out of office work and put them into factories to make munitions.

Florence Mahoney during World War II and today. Credit: Royal Star & Garter

“And there was no way I was going to go into a factory. I went up to the Air Force and said ‘I want to join up’.“

She became a Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) member in 1942-1946. WAAFs were part of the female auxiliary of the Royal Air Force during World War II.

They did not serve as air crew but did tasks like working with radar, codes and ciphers, aircraft maintenance, transport, analysis of reconnaissance photographs etc.

Florence Mahoney said with so many people losing their lives in bomb attacks in Britain or by fighting overseas: ”If we don’t remember it, we’re more likely to have another war.”

Stephen Vause before and after his first tour of Iraq. Credit: Royal Star & Garter

Armistice Day is on Thursday 11 November – the date the ceasefire was signed in 1918 which signalled the end of WWI. This year Remembrance Sunday falls on 14 November.

Stephen Vause an army veteran who served as a rifleman from 2006 to 2009 lives at Royal Star & Garter in Surbiton.

He was 19 and serving on his first tour of Iraq in 2007, when a mortar explosion near Basra left him with brain injuries and fighting for his life.

Mr Vause has been living at the care home since 2015, where he receives round-the-clock specialist care and benefits from one-to-one physiotherapy two to three times a week.

The charity Royal Star & Garter has said it wants to double the number of veterans it cares for by 2025. At the end of the video, the charity states: ‘Please support us however you can'.

03 Nov 2021
« Previous 2 of 26 Next »


All posts


« Previous 2 of 26 Next »