Vinegar House

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Vinegar House's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Vinegar House is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
Highlighting best practice
Vinegar House
Co-owners Heather Fox
and IanBrown
Vinegar House, situated in Derby, is a 13-bed care home
catering for adults under the age of 65 suffering from
various aspects of mental health illness. The creation of
the unit is the culmination and vision of Co-owners Heather Fox,
who worked for 31 years as a social worker and AMHP within
the city, and Ian Brown, formerly an engineer at Rolls-Royce
later working as a quality manager and registered auditor.
Together they wanted to develop a homely environment that
embraced a person-centred approach to recovery. Their ethos
is: if it should be one of our loved ones who requires care, we
would wish for them to be referred to an establishment like
Vinegar House.
Named after the malting’s factory that once proudly stood in the Kedleston Road
area of Derby, we established Vinegar House in 2007 under the business umbrella
of BrownFox Quality Care Limited. We believe it to be important that people with
mental ill health who have invariably spent lengthy periods in institutions are
allowed to experience what may be perceived as normal living practices and social
outlets without undue pressure from potentially harmful influences that may be
more prevalent in certain locations within a city environment. We wanted to create
a small and friendly environment in which to live with a home from home feel for
its residents having a strong focus on social integration. We very much wanted to
avoid an institutional style of accommodation.
»Co-owners: Heather Fox and
Ian Brown
»Founded in 2007
»Based in Derby
»No. of employees: 11
»Services: 13-bed care home
catering for adults under
the age of 65 suffering from
various aspects of mental
health illness
Vinegar House
The Vinegar House business
Although only a small unit we provide
care support for a wide range of
authorities from across the country.
Our intention is to actively encourage
our service users to move on to more
independent living. We have been very
successful in this process, in part by
helping our service users to improve
their confidence and living skills to
a level that is appropriate for their
abilities so that they can participate
in the next stage of community living
and also with the encouragement and
support of both family members and
other professionals involved.
Our staff group
We pride our-selves in having an
extremely loyal and professional staff
group. Individuals from all sorts of
previous working backgrounds have
grown into their respective roles in
support of service users with mental
ill health each bringing their own
varied experiences and interests to
Vinegar House. We provide all our staff
members with ongoing support with
personal learning so as to maximise
their enjoyment and effectiveness as
part of the unit’s ethos.
The recovery process
We work with all of our service users
from where they are at the point when
they are admitted to the unit, not with
any preconceived expectations. They
have full involvement in the development
of their individual recovery plans, which
invariably includes specific detail related
to physical health concerns, as this is
a major issue for many who come to
reside with us at Vinegar House. This
element needs to be addressed at a
level that both encourages the service
users understanding and the need to
engage in the help offered to them
in order to keep well in the future.
Nutrition and healthy eating forms a
major focus of our unit and we try and
offer lifestyle choices that the service
users can take with them when they
eventually move on.
Professional support
Vinegar House has close links with a
dedicated consultant psychiatrist who
helps supports a professional and
listening style of involvement from the
staff at the unit to interactions and
reviews with the service users. This has
had a very positive effect on supporting
the unit keep service users well and
avoid readmissions to hospital. All of our
service users are supported by a care
co-ordinator, invariably from the local
community team and a representative
from the relevant funding body, which
also helps to maintain a focus of
opinions. We also actively encourage
family members to have involvement
with the unit and to offer their
feedback in a relaxed manner.
Overcoming challenges
The financial restraints currently
experienced by many local authorities
has resulted in a limited variety of
accommodation on offer to support
service users being able to move onto
Rear courtyard
We try and
offer positive
lifestyle choices
to service users
that can be
taken forward
when they
move on
Highlighting best practice
more independent living, this issue
can be further complicated due to the
varying on-going needs of individuals
concerned and the subsequent support
that they may require in the future
not always being readily available. In
Derby City we have a small-established
network of accessible accommodation
but these are invariably in high demand
and often already taken by longer-term
placements hence there are limitations
both in availability and appropriateness.
We have noted a marked increase in
the complexity of cases being referred
to us, where service users often have
multiple problems with a forensic
history. The suitability of all service users
is comprehensively assessed to reflect
historical or present risk issues prior to
admission to Vinegar House in order to
maintain a careful balance of residents.
For this process to be successful It is
important that all service users admitted
to Vinegar House are able to partake
to varying degrees and work with
their recovery model in order to gain
something from this process whatever
their background or limitations. The
multi-disciplinary assessment process that
we use within the unit helps to identify
any potential difficulties a service user
may encounter before ultimately moving
to live independently, this supports the
process to identify appropriate networks
for future accommodation needs,
which might reflect a less independent
moving on plan being required.
Another challenge that we continue to
face on an on-going basis has been in
relation to the slow payment of funds
for a number of our the residents
placed with us - sometimes taking in
excess of six months. This has resulted
in none value-added activity by us,
trying to correct the situation despite
contracts being in place with the
authorities in question. As we are a
small unit, our cost margins need to be
tightly controlled and lengthy delays in
payment of fees are not helpful.
We feel at Vinegar House that we deliver
on our promise in terms of the care we
provide. We have tried to maintain our
costs at a level that is sustainable and
acceptable to funding bodies, while
allowing us to offer and maintain a
high standard of environment and care.
We have noted
a marked
increase in the
complexity of
cases being
referred to us,
where service
users often
have multiple
problems with
a forensic
The lounge

This article was sponsored by Vinegar House. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy