John finds his feet just in time to collect his British Empire Medal

When John Fieldsend first began his recovery from a broken hip, his dream was to get his independence back in time to collect his British Empire Medal.

Thanks to the work of Home First – a joint venture between Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (OH), John’s dream became a reality when he went with his daughter to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday 18 May 2022.

John, who is in his nineties and lives in Thame, came into contact with the Home First team back in March 2022 following a hospital stay for a broken hip.

He first came to the UK as a child as part of the famous Kindertransport that rescued thousands of Jewish children from mainland Europe in the 1930s. He was awarded in the Queen’s 2020 New Year’s Honours List for his work with the National Holocaust Centre, educating over 40,000 children and young people. He has also published a book about his experiences.

With his award celebration having been delayed for two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, he made it his goal to be able to walk independently and collect his award in May.

Upon being discharged from hospital, John worked closely with his Home First physiotherapist Sinead and other members of the team to improve his mobility and was soon seeing progress. 

Sally Steele, System Lead for Home First at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “From the very start, John was incredibly motivated andJF with Sinead Lewis Physiotherapist 3 worked tirelessly in his recovery. 

“With just a few little extra bits of equipment, such as a walker and a grab rail by his  front door, John's been able to get back into the swing of things in no time – meeting friends and going on short walks locally.  

“He’s still working hard and has even asked for more exercises to improve his strength and balance!”

John himself has nothing but praise for the support he received both from the ambulance team that first saw him to the Home First team helping him regain his independence. He said: One notices the stress. Of course, you’re aware services are stretched and sometimes there’s a little bit of a wait. But the care I received from March, from the ambulance team, the hospital staff and the care team has been 100 per cent.”

The support of his friends and family was also a big help, John added: “Behind all the support, I have had a group of friends who are prayerful and faithful. I have found that whenever good things have happened, a group of people have been praying.”

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “I am so pleased to hear that John managed to collect his medal and attend a celebration at Buckingham Palace as he had hoped. This is just another example of how Home First makes such a difference to individuals across the county. This way of working allows them to return to their communities and live the lives they want to lead.”

Louise Johnson, Deputy Director for urgent care at OUH, said: “This is another great example of how the Home First approach can really make a difference.  We’re delighted to hear of John’s progress and what it has allowed him to do.

“By helping people regain their independence and continuing our 'home first' approach, the team can continue to deliver safe, effective care and support in the most appropriate and often happiest setting for our patients.”

John was awarded his medal by Oxfordshire's Lord-Lieutenant and attended a Buckingham Palace garden party to celebrate his investiture. 

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