Joan Buck

Just a little insight into High Hall Bainbridge 1966 – 1973

I came to look at High Hall Old peoples home on a dull and foggy day in November 1966 having just been to Richmond House.
I originally applied for a post there.
Having looked at High Hall I quickly saw that it would be a huge challenge.
The residents appeared subdued and the staff were very quiet. By the middle of December my husband and I had moved in.

It was the first time the post at High Hall had been held by only one person. There was no longer a Master and Matron. I was appointed as matron and my husband was to follow his own occupation.

Very soon after my arrival we had a new vicar and a new doctor. The Rev. Malcolm Stonestreet and then Dr Hamer. You could say we were the new kids on the block. Or a dynamic young group!!

I first set about organising the Red Cross for our area and getting the Yore Club started, both being of great help to our residents. Next we brought in a chiropodist, occupational and physiotherapists, and a hairdresser. We also encouraged visiting.

The British Legion and the Red Cross Ladies visited regularly. A bus was organised to take residents to church and more outings were provided as we raised more funds.

We started Day Residency where people came in for the day for a bath and a hot meal. It was quite a battle as at the time the County Welfare Office was in the process of becoming Social Services. A lot of the older people were leaving and younger ones were taking over. In the middle of change no one wants to make big decisions. Day residency was finally agreed.

All the staff wages, residentsÂ’ pocket money and savings were managed by the Matron.

One of the more unusual payments was for dressing the dead. Originally, the fee of 3 guineas was for guarding the dead against the body snatchers in the early 1900s.

The Coroner had a temporary Coroners’ court in the building if there were any accidental or unusual deaths to investigate.

It was held in the now sitting room next door to the office.

The Aysgarth Parish Council meetings were also held in that room at a charge of 3/6 per month.

If you went through that sitting room you were in the assistant matronsÂ’ quarters.
The Matrons’ quarters were directly above on the first floor.

There were ongoing threats at this time that the home was going to close.

One of my great aims was to get a lift installed in the building. Although it was not installed by the time I left the wheels had been put in motion.

I had the most wonderful support from the staff and local GPs in most of what I tried to acheive to make High Hall a happier and more pleasant place to live.

Day and Respite care are now taken for granted at High Hall Residential Home. Hopefully I made some contribution in the care of the elderly and helped to dispel the dreaded workhouse image.

Joan Buck 2005

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