This is part of the text of County Councillor David Kirk's speech at the opening.
Both on behalf of the County Council’s Cabinet and as a local Andover Member, I am delighted to welcome everyone here today to celebrate the official opening of Willow Court.
My first task is to pass on the Leader, Cllr Ken Thornber’s, sincere apologies for not being here. Ken is, unfortunately, suffering from an infection that has laid him low over the holiday period.
Willow Court is a 66 bed establishment and the second of the stand-alone units which are part of our 10 homes scheme being built across the county providing 500 nursing care beds, designed to meet the needs of older people. This is a project that is being developed in a partnership between the County Council, Hampshire’s Primary Care Trusts and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Strategic Health Authority.
These purpose-built homes, which are being run by Hampshire Adult Services, will be used by older people whose needs cannot be met in their own homes or in conventional residential accomodation. The beds will prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and provide care for older people leaving hospital, reducing delays and waiting times, whilst freeing up medical and surgical beds for essential operations and other treatments.
I am pleased to be seeing this unit officially opened, providing older people in the area with the care they need and deserve. The requirement for these beds is as great as ever and our partnership approach with health colleagues will ensure the care and health needs of an increasingly ageing and dependent population can be better met.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the staff from the County Council, Primary Care Trust, Strategic Health Authority and HBG Construction for all their hard work in getting to the position we are in today, and in particular to Mary Critcher the Nurse Manager and all her staff who are already providing care to over 50 residents here in Willow Court."
This is an extract from Sir George's remarks
"This is an important day for Andover and the surrounding villages. We are celebrating a significant new £5.5m investment in a much needed service - 66 en-suite beds meeting general nursing needs or caring for those with dementia.
It is marvellous to have these new facilities in Andover, with the state of the art bathrooms.
I welcome the way this large development has broken down into small units of 10, each with their own lounge and dining area.
My thanks and congratulations are due to Hampshire County Council for its enlightened leadership, and to its partners in the Health Trusts in this joint endeavour.
I hope Willow Court has wider significance. It is a building of the highest quality and it sets a benchmark for the future and further investment in health and social care in the town. Andover deserves the best. This building shows how in the 21st century key services should be delivered.
I want to see comparable investment on the rest of the site so patients are treated and health professionals can work in a modern environment.
It is good to see Mary Critcher in charge – as the Nursing Home Manager. Mary is Andover’s Premier Matron. She has worked for NHS for over 40 years; last May some of us attended a moving farewell party for her a few yards from here. But it was au revoir, rather than adieu. With Mary in charge, residents will get the very best. A building of itself is of little value. What makes Willow Court an attractive resource is the combination of facilities here with committed staff.
One final word. The public want a seamless service. If you are frail and elderly, you don’t’ care whether you are a health or social services responsibility. You want the treatment you need.
But all too often, bureaucratic boundaries get in the way
NHS is a centrally driven service funded by government out of general taxation, free at the point of use.
Social services provided by local government via the council tax and means tested.
Where the two meet there can be friction. Joint working is crucial.
Willow Court shows how the interface can work. It is a good example of a patient driven initiative. Well done Rea Mattocks, Director of Adult Services at HCC, and well done Bridget Phelps and Barbara North, Chairs of the PCT and NHS Trust directly involved."