Bethesda / News & Announcements / Bethesda Update - October 2021

Bethesda Update - October 2021

We would take this opportunity to update supporters of on various matters that the Bethesda trustees together with the General Manager, in the fear of the Lord, are addressing currently including the situation at the Studley Bethesda Home, staffing matters, the independent living accommodation development at Swavesey and progress on the move to a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee. 
 
Introduction
As some may be aware, the Bethesda trustees have, with a heavy heart, taken the decision to close the Studley Bethesda Home from Friday, 29 October 2021. This is explained further in this Update and on the GSBF website.
 
COVID-19 has had many unforeseen consequences, and this has certainly been the case within the adult social care sector. Although we are thankful that a way was made to allow visiting during the peak of COVID-19 through the provision of visitor rooms and morning readings were able to continue through the use of technology. This was, however, no substitute for the human interaction that face-to-face contact brings and the influence of ‘iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17). In addition, COVID-19 has brought challenges in maintaining staffing levels across care homes and this has been especially felt at Bethesda. One consequence of COVID-19 that has made the national news headlines is the mandatory requirement for all those working on the frontline in care homes to be double vaccinated by 11 November 2021 or else they will lose their livelihood.
 
We are mindful, however, that the Lord has watched and continues to watch over us and that He has heard our cries and prayers in these matters.
 
Mercifully, there have been no positive tests for staff and residents for a considerable period of time now.
We are thankful to report that the development of independent living accommodation at Swavesey is progressing. We are also able to report that the move to a Charitable Company is also moving forward and that the Company Registration Certificate has been received from Companies House.
 
Studley Bethesda Home
As you may be aware a unanimous decision has been made by the GSBF Committee to close the Studley Bethesda Home. This came about owing to a culmination of factors - the ongoing financial viability of the Home, constant serious challenges relating to staff shortages (exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic), the continual low occupancy rate and in August there was a CQC Focused Inspection. This resulted in a ‘Warning Notice’ being issued relative to the registration of the Home due to the failure to comply with relevant requirements under the Health & Social Care Act 2008 (although it was felt that some of the language used in the report was overstated). Before this CQC visit an advert for staff was placed in the August Gospel Standard Magazine and prior to this (July) an appeal was made to the churches local to the Studley Home. Only two individuals responded to the advert but, sadly, there was no local response.
 
On Friday 24th September, even while the Trustees were meeting to consider how to respond to the CQC report, a message was received from the Home Manager indicating that they could no longer continue in their current role. This meant that urgent action was need to ensure the continued care of the residents. As a result, an emergency meeting was convened by the Trustees on Tuesday 28th September when the decision was made to close the Home on Friday 29th October 2021. It will be appreciated that this decision was not taken lightly. There have been many prayers to the Lord to seek His will and guidance - the Trustees did so need to see clearly either a ‘door opened or a door closed’ in this important matter and although this is a sad chapter for Bethesda the trustees felt that this was an answer to their prayers.
 
There is still much to be done to help the residents - and their loved ones/families - to find suitable alternative accommodation to meet the current residents care needs. Meetings have been held with those affected by this decision and, if the Lord will, further meetings are being arranged to ensure that they are made aware of the alternatives available to them.
 
In addition to communicating with those immediately affected by the decision a letter explaining the situation and the statement setting out the Lord’s leadings in this matter have been shared with subscribers and Chapel correspondents in the south-west area. Information has also been uploaded to the GSBF website and a statement prepared for the Gospel Standard.
 
Further details can be found on the Bethesda website by clicking here and a copy of the statement, prepared by the trustees explaining the Lord’s leadings and background to the situation at the Studley Bethesda Home, can be found by clicking here.
 
Mandatory Covid Vaccinations
The government requirement that staff in care homes must be double vaccinated by 11th November 2021 will have implications for the Bethesda Homes as there are some staff, who for conscience’s sake, do not feel able to be vaccinated. A letter has been sent to the Chairman of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee expressing Bethesda’s concern over this matter. National representations have also been made by the care sector as this decision by government will have an additional impact on an industry already facing serious recruitment challenges.

Staffing
There are three interrelated ‘elements’ involved in managing Bethesda; these are the residents (and occupancy), recruiting and retaining staff who have the residents and their preferred lifestyle at heart and the financial and physical resources needed to operate the Homes.
In discussion with other care homes and reading the adult social care press, the most immediate challenge facing the care sector is finding suitable staff against the background of severe staff shortages across the country.
Whilst, in the Lord’s purposes, it has been possible to staff the Homes; this has only been possible through the goodwill of managers and staff who have worked extra shifts and this in turn has had a ‘human’ and operational cost.
Also, there are a number of people, in GS chapels, who can look back to serving Bethesda in their early, middle and later working lives; sadly there are very few who feel constrained to serve the Lord in Bethesda’s ministry to those who are in their later life.
If anyone would be interested in discussing how they can serve the Lord in Bethesda, then please contact Adrian (Topping), General Manager, either by email or telephone at adriantopping@gsbf.uk or 01582 460522.
In addition, if anyone has any ideas/thoughts how we can encourage/attract the next generation of care staff to Bethesda then please feel free to contact Adrian.

Swavesey Site
Following the completion of the purchase of the property in Swavesey we have been able to formalise the appointment of architects to lead the project - Saunders Boston of Cambridge. They are now working on refining the initial draft plans submitted as part of their bid process. The expectation is that the plans will provide four 2 bedroom and two 1 bedroom apartments. One apartment will be set aside for use, as needed, either by carers or available to visitors. We believe we have seen the Lord continuing to go before us and feel very much our need to be guided in His way.
 
New Committee Member
The trustees are thankful to record that Mr John Hart has agreed to join the Bethesda Committee at this challenging time.  
 
Charitable Company
This is moving forward and a certificate of registration of the Charitable Company has been issued by Companies House. The next step will be to register with the Charity Commission.   If the Lord will, it is anticipated that the Charitable Company will become operational in early 2022.
 
Finally, we would not be unmindful of the Lord’s continuing mercy to us and desire a thankful heart that we have been upheld to the present day. We value your prayerful interest in these anxious times.
 
Please feel free to pass this Update on to anyone who may be interested in the work of Bethesda.
 
On behalf of the Bethesda trustees,
 
M Ridout
Chairman GSBF
 
This web site uses Kentico CMS, the content management system for ASP.NET developers.