Maritime charity The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society’s care home Belvedere House has become the first in the UK dedicated solely to seafarers to obtain the Veteran Aware Accreditation from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA).
The Society, which was established in 1865, has a long history of supporting veterans delivering expert care to former seafarers and their dependants – including those living with dementia – from a variety of maritime backgrounds. Its commitment to care has now been recognised with the accreditation from the VCHA, a group of NHS providers committed to improving armed forces and veteran care whilst raising standards for all.
This accreditation comes after the Royal Alfred signed the Armed Forces Covenant earlier in the year, a pledge which promises to ensure those who serve or who have served in the armed forces and their families are treated with fairness and respect.
The Society, which cares for residents at its home in Banstead, Surrey, has focused on creating a community of shared interests amongst its former seafarers. Everything from the home’s décor and facilities to former seafarers amongst the Society’s staff ensures residents see Belvedere House as a home from sea.
The Society has also pioneered a Maritime Acquaint Training programme, helping staff to better understand their seafaring residents in terms of their physical and psychological needs both in a seagoing life and afterwards.
The VCHA accreditation includes eight manifesto requirements that an organisation must meet, including supporting the UK armed forces as an employer, training and educating staff in the needs of veterans and identifying veterans to ensure they receive appropriate care.
Chief Executive of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt OBE Royal Navy, said: “The Royal Alfred has always celebrated the hard work and sacrifices of the British armed forces, particularly from those from naval backgrounds as so many of our residents, employees, supporters and sponsors have served. This accreditation further highlights the important work of those veterans as well as the work we do to support them here at the Royal Alfred.
“Veterans have sacrificed so much to ensure we have been able to continue our lives as safely and with as little disruption as possible, it is so very important that we ensure those who fought for their country, receive the best possible care and upmost respect. This accreditation aligns heavily with our goals here at The Royal Alfred and we are proud we can be a part of it.”
Professor Tim Briggs CBE, NHS National Director for Clinical Improvement in NHS England, VCHA National Lead and Honorary Colonel of 202 Midlands Field Hospital, said:
“It is especially poignant for the team and myself to be awarding Veteran Aware status at this time of year. Some of my team are veterans so I understand about the risks that service men and women undertake. It is only fair that we work towards improving healthcare for the armed forces community, once they have left active service.
“Veteran Aware accreditation means that the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society has made a huge commitment to the service men and women of this country. They should be very proud of the efforts they’ve made; I know I am.
“Thank you for the work you’ve all put in, despite the undoubted pressures I know you will be under at the moment.”