A return to Liverpool with fish and chips for tea – the changing look of social care in Oxfordshire
Ninety year old Ted Cooper is full of praise for Oxfordshire County Council’s community support service (CSS) after a heart warming trip back to Liverpool, his childhood home.
For Ted, who is based just outside Witney, adult social care plays an important part in his life. He has been diagnosed with mild dementia and struggles to hear, but Witney CSS supports him to live as independently as possible within his own community. And the service is always on the lookout for new ways to deliver care, tailored to each individual.
Ted’s support worker is Scott Wilkinson and having worked at Witney CSS since 2019, has built up quite a rapport with Ted: “He’s got so many stories to tell and he’s great company,” explains Scott. “Even though he’s hard of hearing, he’s a great lip reader so we always have great conversations.” During COVID when Ted was unable to go to the centre, Scott made regular home visits to see him. It was all part of the personalised approach which became crucial during the pandemic and continues to be a priority within the service.
Scott always knew Liverpool was close to Ted’s heart: “Ted’s a lifelong Liverpool FC fan. He talks a lot about his experiences on Merseyside, including playing dice with his mates on the street and visiting Strawberry Fields where his sisters stayed in care. It got me thinking about whether I could take Ted back there, to visit his old stomping ground and reflect on some of the experiences he had as a boy.”
Ted was born in Liverpool. His father was in the merchant navy so was absent a lot and when his mother was no longer able to care for him, he was moved with his brothers to a children’s home in Wakefield. But he returned to Liverpool in his twenties before moving on to Witney where he spent the majority of his later life, including taking up the post of town mayor for three years.
When the offer of a trip to Liverpool was suggested, Ted jumped at the chance. He says: “Scott always goes the extra mile for me, but I was taken aback by the opportunity to return to Liverpool. Being able to go with Scott made the trip even more special.”
The pair started their pilgrimage with a trip to the Albert Docks, an area of Liverpool which has undergone significant change since Ted was younger. Ted was able to walk around the Maritime Museum, exploring the history of the Titanic as well as recounting stories from his father including a voyage when he brought home a real-life monkey!
A quick refreshment stop outside the famous Cavern Club was followed by a journey to Liverpool’s grand gothic cathedral. Scott recalls: “Ted managed to walk the majority of the morning but, as the day went on, we chose to adapt our sightseeing tour, traveling to some roads which held significance to him.” These included a trip to Strawberry Fields where his sisters lived and Braemer Street where he used to play dice with his friends. And, of course, the obligatory photo on Penny Lane.
A busy day was finished off, at Ted’s request, with a fish and chip tea. For Ted, the experience was overwhelmingly positive. He says: “Liverpool is a special place for me. I’ve remembered things I’ve not thought about for years. For Scott to take a weekend off and experience these things with me is something I’ll always be grateful for.”
Back at Witney CSS, Selina Crozier, Team Leader, is full of praise for Scott: “We had a discussion at our team meeting about thinking outside the box when supporting people and by listening to Ted, Scott has managed to offer a unique experience which I know is truly valued.
“It’s all part of Oxfordshire’s approach to do things differently. To focus on our strengths and think about how we can make a difference, helping people’s dreams come true. Scott embodies this approach and we are extremely lucky to have him.”
For Ted’s daughters, Jeannette Gardiner and Lyn Sharpe, this new way of working makes all the difference to their dad’s life. Lyn says: “Witney CSS has been and still is a very important part of Dad’s life. For us, as a family, it’s a place where we know Dad is cared for. I am so grateful for everything they do. I just wish every elderly person had this sort of opportunity.”
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