From humble beginnings to one of the largest care providers in Kent.
Rapport Housing & Care started its journey, as a member of the Abbeyfield movement. Kent got its first Abbeyfield home in 1967, when Rev Tom Rogers noticed that older people in the area were lonely and in desperate need of care. He set up a home in Gillingham, which was made financially secure by volunteer, Trevor Cox, who had a strong commercial background. Cox’s leadership proved inspirational in the construction of Rogers House in Gillingham, which became the first residential care home in the county to provide 24-hour care and compassion.
Known then as Abbeyfield Gillingham, the Society developed a strong purpose in the Medway towns. By 1999, they had expanded to include five properties across Medway and Maidstone and changed their name to the ‘Abbeyfield Medway Valley Society’. Robert Barnes, a Trustee at the time and former Abbeyfield Kent Chairman recalls: “Pooling finances and resources was essential if we were to meet the challenge of providing social care for the elderly. We were subject to an increasing amount of government regulation and facing a rise in the number of dementia cases amongst our residents. We needed a dedicated home for dementia sufferers but because of the mid 90s housing boom, every site was snapped up by builders.”
The solution came when the organisation made a remarkable leap by purchasing nine of Kent County Council’s local authority run care homes, some of which needed major investment. The acquisition was finalised in 2000, thanks to a loan from the National Westminster Bank.
Soon after, other homes from across Kent were applying to join and properties from Maidstone, Paddock Wood, Whitstable and Sevenoaks were incorporated into the Society. In 2005 the trustees decided the Society ought to be renamed to reflect the new nature of the organisation and The Abbeyfield Kent Society was born. New headquarters were set up in Cuxton and the Society continued to expand with the opening of Watling Court, its first extra care scheme in Gravesend in 2011. In 2017, the Society is one of the largest independent societies in Britain with six residential care homes, nine supported homes and one extra care scheme.
Onwards and Upwards
In 2018, The Abbeyfield Kent Society took the decision to leave the Abbeyfield movement and operate as an independent organisation. After much growth and and change over the past 50 years, the organisation is substantial and strong enough to go it alone. The ethos, values and philosophy for Rapport Housing & Care remains the same.