The new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock praised the St Monica Trust’s innovative approach to care during a visit to Westbury Fields retirement village.
Matt Hancock said: "Westbury Fields is a fantastic example of integrated, high-quality social care in action. I loved the feel of the place and the time I spent with residents and staff has given me food for thought as we prepare to launch our social care green paper later this year."
Met by the President of the St Monica Trust, Charles Griffiths, Chief Executive, David Williams and Skills for Care's Locality Manager, Lindsey Thomas, the Secretary of State was given a tour of the Trust’s Westbury Fields site, starting with John Wills House nursing care home.
John Wills House Care Home Manager, Wendy Leaman’s leadership has been rated ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC and her staff team have won multiple awards over the last 12 months, including Care and Support West’s Outstanding Contribution to Health and Social Care Award.
Wendy Leaman gave the health secretary a tour of the Discharge to Assess Unit, which provides NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG with beds for rehabilitation and complex social care needs, freeing beds in Southmead Hospital for acute admissions.
David Williams said: “We were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to Westbury Fields and have the opportunity to demonstrate how the health benefits of innovative and forward-thinking retirement living can actually save the NHS money.”
“It’s important that we create new services like our Discharge to Assess programme that meet people’s expectations and challenge current thinking.
"Rather than transfer people who are over 70 straight from hospital into a residential care home, they can now be discharged to a specialist facility that provides rehabilitation services to get them back living in their own home.”
Uniquely, Westbury Fields is built around a cricket pitch and Matt Hancock met with resident, Keith Bartle who helps prepare the outfield and wicket for Bishopston Cricket Club.
An avid cricketer, the secretary of state took a moment out of his schedule to take guard on the Westbury Fields pitch and dispatch a few throw-downs to the boundary.
Yorkshire born and bred, Keith who played cricket for Bingley Congregationals Cricket Club in Yorkshire for more than 30 years, said: “It was pleasing to see Matt keeping his left elbow nice and high when he batted.
"Also his ability to leave the ball outside his off stump is something a few members of the current England Test Team could learn from.”
After viewing the former Defra site, which has been purchased by the St Monica Trust for redevelopment, the Secretary of State chatted with residents and care and support staff in Sommerville.
The Secretary of State was in Bristol to launch the Talk Health and Care digital platform in a speech to staff at Southmead Hospital. Available on computers, phones and tablets, the platform can be used by health and care staff to post ideas, questions and challenges for government.
Matt Hancock also personally thanked the staff at Southmead Hospital who saved his sister’s life following a riding accident while competing in the Badminton Horse Trials last year.