Whittlesey woman with several medical conditions able to spend Christmas at home thanks to support team

Shirley BasfordShirley Basford
Shirley Basford
“They’ve encouraged me, helped me - brought me back to life”

A Whittlesey pensioner spoke of the joy of being able to spend Christmas at home with her family

Shirley Basford has spoken of the joy that the help she gets from council support workers, which has allowed her to stay at home, rather than spend time in hospital.

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Shirley has several medical difficulties including arthritis in her legs and has suffered from falls which saw her recently spend time in hospital. But thankfully she is back home and looking forward to spending Christmas with her family, something she can do having been helped to regain her mobility by support workers who pay her regular visits.

Support workers ‘do things I cannot do’

The 77-year-old from Whittlesey describes herself as “stubbornly independent” with a love of DIY which even saw her install new windows at her home when she moved in.

And it is that independence and a self-confessed hatred of idleness which means she is determined to remain at home rather than enter a formal care setting, something she is able to do thanks to the support of Cambridgeshire County Council’s reablement service.

Reablement is a programme of short term support to help people retain or regain their independence which is not only beneficial to the individual, but saves money and takes the pressure off local hospitals by freeing up beds.

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“I’m so grateful because they do things I can’t do because of my shoulder, and (previously) being in hospital in bed all day means I am less mobile than I was in the summer,” Shirley adds.

“But they’ve encouraged me, helped me - brought me back to life.”

It is keeping my brain alive

The support includes helping Shirley to put her clothes on, but also improving her mood thanks to their conversations.

“It’s the mental (side) as well,” Shirley says. “When they come in I listen to what they say, and I come back with these annoying one-liners! It’s keeping my brain alive.

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“They’ve all got a lovely sense of humour. They’ll talk about anything. They treat me with respect, they’re gentle, they’re caring. I think they’re all wonderful and I love every single one of them.”

Teresa Harrington is one of Shirley’s support workers and has enjoyed spending time with her helping her to regain her independence. This has even included the pair of them cooking together.

‘She makes me laugh – she’s such a lovely person

“Shirley is lovely. You come in and she’s always full of beans. She makes me laugh - she’s such a lovely person,” she said.

“I’m working over Christmas this year and I want to. Especially for the people that don’t see family and friends. And it makes me feel good to make them feel happy.”

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Shirley is just one of a number of people being helped to stay in their homes thanks to the council’s reablement service.

In November, the team made 13,649 visits, delivering 7,825 hours of care, while nearly three-quarters of people who they have supported remain independent afterwards.