Care for the elderly in Northumberland.

A video from our Chair of Trustees to launch our new appeal

By 29th June 2020

Our Chair of Trustees, Berenice Groves recorded a short video to help launch our Isolation Unit Appeal – you can watch it here:

Thank you to Ian Wylie, for recording the video!

We have raised £5,570 towards our Isolation Appeal unit so far!

By 25th June 2020

Great news! So far we have raised £5,570 towards the Charlotte Straker Isolation Unit Appeal (CSIU). This includes a £5000 grant from the National Emergencies Trust via the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland and £570 in donations. We are awaiting approval from Northumberland County Council for a further £5,330 specifically for the CSIU as part of the government’s Infection Control Grant. If successful this will bring the total raised for the CSIU to £10,900, which is a superb start to this appeal!

You can donate to our appeal at the following link

The picture shows Marilyn Hunter (Registered Manager), Ian Duthie (Registered Nurse) and Berenice Groves (Chair of the Trustees) in front of our new fundraising thermometer.


By 22nd June 2020

Marilyn Hunter, Registered Manager, Ian Duthie, Registered Nurse and Berenice Groves, Chair of the Trustees in front of our fundraising thermometer.


We knew we needed to move quickly when the pandemic emerged in the UK to keep our vulnerable residents safe and well. The Charlotte Straker Trustees and Management decided to set up a new Isolation Unit to keep the home free from Covid-19.

Now we need your help to raise £70,000 to keep the unit open and running until September.
The special unit has been used to isolate any unwell resident and any with suspected Coronavirus infection. We have had no cases of Covid-19 to date. It will also be used to quarantine any new resident who joins the home or any residents returning after a hospital admission.
It also has specific staffing arrangements to stop any potential spread of the virus to the rest of the care home, which has access to testing. All staff and residents have tested negative.
The Isolation Unit will continue to operate until the threat of Covid-19 infection has passed for care homes with the charity paying the direct costs of setting aside the rooms involved.
“There is, unfortunately, a considerable additional cost to our charity of providing this Isolation Unit,” said Berenice Groves, chair of the Charlotte Straker Trustees.
“It comprises of four adjacent rooms in the east wing of our home, separate from the rest of the building. We have sacrificed the income we would normally receive from these rooms to keep everyone safe.”
The government Coronavirus support grant will only cover a fraction of the cost of the Isolation Unit, providing some help with additional staffing costs.
“There is a continuing need in our local community for the residential and nursing care provided at Charlotte Straker House. But people have been reluctant to be admitted due to the perceived risk of Covid-19 infection,” added Berenice.
Our isolation unit not only protects those already in our care and reassures their families but it also provides reassurance for those who need to be admitted to care.”
Added Berenice: “We have very close ties to the local community we serve and beyond. People have been fantastic in their support in the past. £70,000 is a lot of money to raise but we are asking for their help again.
“We have done everything in our power to keep those in our care safe during this awful pandemic and must continue to do that.
“It is heartening to know that this small Northumberland community is doing its utmost to protect those who are most vulnerable and frail. Charlotte Straker staff and trustees have worked closely with our village community to protect our residents to ensure we all emerge from this crisis safely.”


Saying Goodbye to Christine, our Senior Care Assistant

By 5th June 2020

We said goodbye to our staff member Christine Dawson last month. Christine started work at Charlotte Straker House in March 2008 as a Care Assistant, and was promoted in 2010 to become a valued Senior Care Assistant. She worked for seven years as part of the day shift care team, and five years on the night shift.

We asked her what changes she saw at Charlotte Straker House, and her favourite parts of her job.

She says “During my time at Charlotte Straker House I saw the introduction and removal of the palliative care unit, plus the introduction of the successful Community Respite Care Bed. It is the residents that I will remember most: Billy S for his wry humour, dance moves and lovely smile; Molly R and her pride when receiving her award for the work she did at Bletchley Park; Brian J for his wonderful comments on my eyes looking like “pools of deep blue sea”; and of course Gwen W, Lily S, Audrey J and Joan J, who was the longest-serving resident.

As far as staff, I will miss them all, but especially Claire MacDonald and Eleanor Graham for their guidance and support when I first started at Charlotte Straker House and Kerri Smith and Sandra Brothwood for their support and guidance when I transferred to the night shift. And of course Sarah Findlay who, sadly is no longer with us. She had a heart of gold and was a ray of sunshine and I miss her dearly.

I’ve enjoyed the diversity of the job and the feeling that I made a difference in peoples lives. Working both day shift and night shift gave me a greater appreciation of the work involved over 24 hour period in the Home.

I am very much looking forward to retirement and spending more time with my family. We are expecting a new puppy (Alaskan Malamute) in the near future and I’ll be working on my ongoing garden projects, plus walking, brushing up on photography and of course enjoying some holidays!”

The Trustees and Management of the Charlotte Straker Project would like to thank Christine very much for her years of hard work at Charlotte Straker House, and for her commitment, professionalism and wonderful care of our residents. We wish her all the best in her future life and sincerely hope she enjoys her retirement!

Knitted hearts help our residents and their families

By 3rd June 2020

Our volunteers have knitted and crocheted over 30 little pairs of hearts, with the aim of giving one of each pair to our resident, and sending another to their families, as an idea to help them and their loved ones manage the pain of separation over lockdown.

Over 15 of our residents were keen to join in and we visited their rooms so they could choose a pair of hearts.

The knitted hearts have now been posted to families, and includes a small message from our staff and management – we hope you enjoy receiving them!

(The message we sent each of the families

“We hope that this might bring a smile to your family during this difficult time. The staff are also sending our love to you and to reassure you that we are doing our utmost to make sure your loved one is safe and happy”.)

#VolunteersWeek at Charlotte Straker House

By 3rd June 2020

This week is Volunteers Week 2020 and we are sending our appreciation and love to ALL our volunteers, to those who have worked with us for a while and who have recently joined us during the pandemic.

Over the past year our volunteers have helped with the shop trolley, befriending phone calls, outdoor gardening, music activities, weekly reading and games afternoons, helping us to fundraise and providing regular companionship to our residents.

Our dedicated volunteers are a major strength of the Charlotte Straker Project. Without their contribution of time and energy, our organisation would not have become such a vital resource for our surrounding community during this difficult time.

This week is a chance for the trustees, staff and residents to thank our volunteers for sharing their skills and for the positive impact they make on our residents’ lives.

We are genuinely grateful for the energy, enthusiasm and dedication they bring to their roles as volunteers and the fact they make our overall mission of “care according to need” that much easier to achieve.

Saying goodbye to a valued staff member

By 2nd June 2020

Claire MacDonald started work as a Registered General Nurse with us in September 1999 and is retiring this month after 20 fantastic years of service caring for the residents at Charlotte Straker House. We spoke to her to talk about the wonderful contribution she has made to the Nursing and Care Team over the years.

What have you enjoyed most about working for the Charlotte Straker Project? Professionally I found the years most interesting, when we had GP beds for respite and rehabilitation after hospital discharge and then palliative care beds to support local care. I have also loved caring for residents, especially those with an interesting history, or character, and I have found it a pleasure and a honour to be part of their lives. I have always enjoyed working at Charlotte Straker and found older people’s nursing similar to children’s nursing for which I had been previously employed in medical preparation for heart surgery in London. The most job satisfaction I receive is when I gain residents’ trust, and can be proactive in their care, plus working with multidisciplinary teams. Also, feedback from relatives on the care that I’ve provided to their loved ones has been a very valuable part of my life at Charlotte Straker.

What do you want to do when you retire? I have enjoyed travelling over the years: to Japan in 2008, where my son is resident; to French Guiana in 2015 to visit the rainforest and jungle; to Vancouver BC in 2016 to visit my youngest daughter, in 2018 I travelleved to Arizona to visit my brother, and I go every year to the south of France to see my sister. I want to keep travelling and we are hoping to make another trip to Japan when the current pandemic crisis allows. We are moving temporarily to Somerset to be nearer our daughters in Bristol, and we look forward to the possiblity of grandparenting at some time! .

The Trustees and Management of the Charlotte Straker Project would like to thank Claire for her dedication, professionalism and extremely high standards of person centred care over the past 20 years. We wish her all the best in her future life and hope she comes back to visit us soon!

A spot of outdoor gardening

By 29th May 2020

Our volunteers Ranald and Diane Harris organised a “social distanced” outdoor gardening session for our residents. The weather was gorgeous and sunny, and everyone enjoyed potting up plants and talking to each other about gardening. Thank you very much for Ranald and Diane for leading this session, as the residents loved the sunshine and the chance to have a good chat.

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