Care in action
One of the great benefits of being a Freemason is the availability of care homes provided by the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution. John Jackson reports.
There is a growing shortage of care homes, and as the population continues to live longer, the need to provide suitable accommodation with back-up services for older people, particularly those who are frail, becomes more acute.
For Freemasons, such help is at hand for themselves and their dependants through a registered charity, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI).
The RMBI provides 17 residential registered care homes that include registered care, high dependency support and 24-hour dementia care, plus sheltered housing in a stand-alone sheltered development.
There are 1,200 residents, spread nationally, and support is also given to many more people living in the community. More than two thirds of the beneficiaries
The RMBI is now the only major Masonic charity that directly manages its services. It looks after Masons and their dependants, and these can include wives, widows, daughters, mothers, mothers-in-law - and even an aunt
if she is dependent on
While a proportion of the RMBI's costs is recovered from local authority and residents' contributions, as a charity the Institution relies
heavily on the generosity of Masons to bridge the gap in fees.
RMBI chief executive Peter Gray explains: 'Half of our
residents are selffunding with the remainder supported by the local authority. The Institution picks up any shortfall in fees from the local
Each residential home has an Association of Friends, made up of local Masons and their wives or widows, who raise extra funds through organising events.
Mr Gray says: 'I see our homes more like country clubs. However, priority is always given to need, and having money does not mean that you jump the queue.
'Each home has a minibus to ensure that residents have the mobility to participate in the community. We want our residents to live with dignity and to have as much independence as possible'.
The following letter was received from the daughter of a lady who died recently after living in the RMBI home at Cadogan Court for 13 years:
I have been closely involved with the home for 13 years,
as both my parents moved into Cadogan Court, Exeter in 1989.
I have seen many changes, both in residents and staff, but there have been a number of staff, at all levels, who have always been there.
To retain experienced staff is a compliment to those managing the home at Exeter.
As I live in Northumberland, the care staff became the extended family to my mother - and friends to me - and enabled my mother to live in a happy and contented way.
My mother died a gentle death, aged 93 years. She was nursed and cared for by those she knew and loved. I
was there and saw the respect and dignity in her care, and the grief of the staff at her death.
I am a practising district sister working out of a large practice and understand the challenges of residential and nursing care. I have seen homes of differing standards, so I can say that you have
a wonderful home with excellent staff.
The home manager and all who work with her give generously of their time.
My father was a longstanding Mason, who would have been thankful for the care given to his wife of 58 years, and proud of the
continuing ethos of the RMBI.
Web site created by Mark Griffin