Cedars Castle Hill has grown out of another local charity, The Shaftesbury Community Association (SCA.) SCA was founded in the 1980s to help with the needs of a growing population, but its trust deed was too limited to allow it to provide residential care. With the closure of local hospitals in Salisbury and Dorchester which had met this need, SCA created a sister charity to respond to it, initially called the Shaftesbury Community Health Association, later the Community Health Association in Shaftesbury (CHAS) and renamed Cedars Castle Hill in 2012.
The trust deed stipulates that the charity will provide continuing residential care at all levels of dependency for elderly people with severe disability – mental or physical – in its catchment area, in practice the five towns covered by North Dorset District Council and the smaller settlements serviced by those towns including those just across the county border in Wiltshire and Somerset.
In 1985 the charity bought Shaftesbury’s former maternity hospital on Bimport, a listed building dating from 1790. This was then converted into an 18 bed residential home for levels 1, 2 and 3 of care, as assessed by Dorset County Council. The first residents arrived in 1986. In 2002, an extension was added, taking in part of the site of the adjacent disused Medical Centre building. This brought the number of beds to 30. The Garden Room was added in 2007, to extend residents’ facilities and provide scope to offer day care services. The initial acquisition of the building and the subsequent extensions were all funded primarily through generous gifts from local and national grant-making charities and individuals.
Once Castle Hill House was in operation, it quickly became clear that there was an unmet need locally for Level 4 category care, providing full nursing support for those facing the most severe difficulties. In 1990, the trustees raised further charitable support to acquire and reconfigure another listed building, creating in Angel Lane, Shaftesbury, what is now The Cedars Nursing Home. This opened to residents in 1994. After a final project in 2010/11 to add further space within the inevitable limitations of the building footprint and listed status, The Cedars now offers 31 places.
Cedars Castle Hill today
The trustees of Cedars Castle Hill, originally recruited from the Shaftesbury Christian Council, recognised that a gap existed in the care of the elderly, as statutory care declined with the closure of local hospitals. At the same time, demand for dementia care increased with increases in life expectancy. There was a pressing requirement that the voluntary sector stepped in to remedy the lack of state provision. There was much support from local and national voluntary charities and sources, including invaluable legacies from local people.
We offer people in the home the opportunity to enhance their quality of life by providing a safe, manageable and comfortable environment. We offer support and stimulation to help residents maximise their potential, physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially to their full capability.
We provide in Shaftesbury continuing care at all levels to ensure that our senior citizens are not forced to move many miles away when they can no longer cope at home, for whatever reason.
As a result, those who can afford to pay fees should find them far less intimidating than at profit-making homes.
We are sensitive to the needs of the residents who have dementia and those who are elderly and frail. We take advice from Dementia Voice, based at the University of the West of England in Bristol, Dorset Social Services and our Health Authorities. We have a key pad system in place. There are opportunities for all to socialise and to come together, but only as and when individual residents are comfortable with this.
We fully promote the integration of residents’ relatives and friends to be included in the daily life of the home. We welcome feedback from everybody involved and hold relative and friends meetings on a regular basis.
Cedars Castle Hill staff levels have been raised to take into account the specialised needs of all our residents and we are totally committed to training. Managers and their Deputies have completed City and Guilds Advanced Management of Care. Each year sees many certificates, NVQ’s and the like earned and won by devoted staff, who have all had the benefit of training by ‘Dementia Voice’. This shows their dedication to the elderly.
As a charity, Cedars Castle Hill is regulated by The Charity Commission. Our latest Report and Accounts can be accessed via the Register of Charities section of the Commission’s website. Charity Commission.