Shared Lives carers scoop award

Sue and Nigel Finch have acted as Shared Lives carers to more than 20 people from their Wantage home and also currently support elderly neighbours by providing meals, personal care and help with day-to-day tasks.

The couple were put forward for a Dignity Every Day Award by social worker Naomi Broomfield, part of the county council's Shared Lives team, a scheme which brings people together to help form caring relationships.

They will be presented with the award at Age UK Oxfordshire's Annual General Meeting from 1pm on Friday November 8 at Oxford's Randolph Hotel.

Pleasure in helping others

Mrs Finch, 66, said: "We were absolutely flabbergasted when we found out that we would be receiving this award - it was lovely just to be nominated and we're now a little bit excited and nervous about going to the ceremony."

The couple decided to open up their home to act as carers for older and disabled people following Mrs Finch's nine-year spell working at an old peoples' home in Southmoor.

"There were quite a few people living there who did not ever have anybody who came to see them," Mrs Finch said.

"I think that what we do is useful for people and you really get a lot back yourself from the work that you put in."

Mrs Finch and her 67-year-old husband have two sons and six grandchildren. "We are always kept busy," Mrs Finch said. "My sons grew up with elderly people in the house and I think that has helped in teaching them to respect the elderly.

"I would really recommend to others interested in becoming a Shared Lives carer to find out more about the role - it is so rewarding and you really get a sense of achievement out of what you do."

Brilliant 'can-do' attitude

Sally Ellis, Oxfordshire County Council's Manager for the Shared Lives scheme, said: "Sue and Nigel have given wonderful support to scores of people and always go the extra mile, ensuring individuals in their care receive person-centred support and care.

"They really are exemplary Shared Lives carers and have an excellent 'can-do' attitude. Sue and Nigel do not seek out recognition or praise - they do it because they want to make a real positive difference to people's lives, which they do.

"They have an abundance of energy and enthusiasm and I'm delighted that they have been chosen for this award as they fully deserve it."

Some of the people that Shared Lives carers support are disabled adults, older people with dementia, people with mental health problems, care leavers and disabled children in transition to adulthood.

The support carers provide is flexible and can range from going out for coffee or to the cinema, to offering overnight stays in their own home or even having someone live with them as part of their family.

A fantastic example

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: "Sue and Nigel are a wonderful example of the excellent work that is done by Shared Lives carers in Oxfordshire. I would like to congratulate them for receiving this award.

"There are adults in Oxfordshire who need care and support but do not want or need high levels of residential care. That is where Shared Lives carers come in - they do a wonderful job in often challenging circumstances."

There are vacancies both for people looking for placements and also for people wanting to become Shared Lives carers. Anyone can become a carer - they just need to be enthusiastic, caring, committed and sensitive to others' needs.

The scheme offers training, payment and on-going professional support and is a great option for people looking to work from home.

Anybody wanting to find out more about becoming a Shared Lives carer should call 01865 897971 or send an email to SharedLives@oxfordshire.gov.uk.