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WATCH: Care scheme helps people like Shirley retain their independence

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There are tears in Shirley Basford’s eyes when she speaks about the support workers who visit her in her home.

“You’re all brilliant and I love you all,” she says. “It’s been an absolute lifesaver over the time they’ve been coming.”

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.

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.

“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.”

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 is keeping my brain alive.

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

Shirley has not wanted to tell her son and two grandchildren the full extents of her medical struggles, but she is determined to be as mobile as possible for when the family get together at Christmas, while going forward so cannot wait to resume one of her main passions.

“I want to get better; I want to get out in the garden – I have a lot of bulbs I want to put out.

“I have been beaten this year, but I am not going to be beaten again. I am going to stay independent as long as I can.”

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.

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

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

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.

Cllr Richard Howitt, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Adults and Health Committee, said: “It has been a challenging winter so far with higher levels of flu than previous years, as well as people having Covid and the regular pressures from this time of the year.

“But our staff have been going the extra mile to help residents get home from hospital in time for the festive period and to make sure they can enjoy Christmas with their loved ones in a place they are familiar with.

“I would like to pay tribute to everyone who works in the reablement service, and it is so moving hear Shirley’s comments about the support she has received. I would like to wish her and all of our team a merry Christmas and happy new year.”

If you are interested in helping to keep people independent in their own home for as long as possible then take a look on our website:


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