The 1943 Methodist Conference gave official approval to the proposal of the former UM minister Walter Hall (1876-1966; e.m.1906) to establish residential homes for older people, based on the Christian principles of love, compassion and respect, provision at that time for poorer people being mainly in the workhouse. In 1944 the name of Methodist Homes for the Aged (MHA) was approved and a Conference Committee appointed. The first home to be opened was Ryelands at Wallington, Surrey in 1945, providing accommodation for twelve 'elderly' ladies. During the next thirty years an average of one new residential home was opened each year. Under Richard J Connell from 1956 there was a growing emphasis on purpose-built homes.
From 1975 until restructuring in 1996 MHA operated in relationship with the Division of Social Responsibility, but always as a separate charity with a separate Board of Trustees, the headquarters being based in London until moving to Derby in 1990. Under David L. Wigley as Chief Executive 1982-1997, the Charity enlarged its residential care and expanded into sheltered housing, specialised dementia care such as music therapy and community-based 'Live at Home' schemes (providing support by 2013 for 9,000 people in their own homes). It also developed its work on spirituality and ageing. A sister Housing Association was set up in 1977.
In 2001 the Charity and Housing Association became incorporated and formed a group structure, MHA Care Group, with its various boards, each containing appointees of the Methodist Conference. In 2011, the structure was able to be simplified, because of changing requirements of external regulators. The Charity, Methodist Homes, became the principal body, with Methodist Homes Housing Association and Auchlochan Garden Village (a major Scottish acquisition) as subsidiaries. The phrase “for the Aged” was dropped from the official title. The Conference retained certain nomination and consultation rights.
Its facilities are open to all, irrespective of religious belief and there has been major growth and capital investment to meet the changing needs of the UK's growing and increasingly diverse older population.. In 2010 the annual turnover exceeded £122 million, and it is currently the second largest provider of such services in the not-for-profit sector, serving about 16,000 people. In 2011 it took over eighteen of the care homes from the failed Southern Cross group and in 2012 was one of the recipients of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award. Its 70th anniversary was celebrated in 2013.