Richie's caring new role
Private care companies have a vital role to play in easing winter pressures on hospitals, say bosses at a new company fronted by former world boxing champion Richie Woodhall.
Telford-based Woodhall Support Services was called into action to ease last month's record bed shortage at Shropshire's two main hospitals.
Operations director Sally-Anne Robinson said the company helped free up four beds over Christmas by enabling patients to be discharged from hospital and cared for in their homes. It also prevented the need for a fifth patient to be treated in hospital by providing her with care at home.
The company was launched by Richie, his wife Jayne, daughter Amey and Sally-Anne just over a year ago, and now employs four more staff.
Sally-Anne, who previously worked in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, said the company cared for both private clients and those funded by the local authority.
But she said one of the things which had surprised her was how closely the company had been working with the health service.
"The importance of our involvement with the overall healthcare sector has come as a bit of a surprise," she said.
"We now realise that we are an important part of the care system."
She added that the care industry had a reputation for paying low wages, but said care staff took on enormous responsibilities.
"We recognise their commitment by paying an above average wage rate so that they feel valued members of the team,” said Sally-Anne.
Jayne, who specialises in dementia care, said one of the things that went unnoticed was the level of support needed for family members who found themselves caring for a loved one.
She said more needed to be done to make people aware of the level of respite care available through the council.
"A lot of people like to keep their affairs private, so maybe we need more drop-in centres, especially for those diagnosed with dementia so that their family carer can have some time out to do their own thing for a while,” Jayne added.
Richie, who held the WBC super-middleweight world title from 1998 to 1999, said his own experience of caring for older family members had shown him how important it was for people to receive the appropriate level of care in the home.
He said: “People are now living longer, and wanting to spend as long as possible living in their own homes.
“Being lonely is one of the biggest silent killers, it can lead to eating disorders and other general health problems, and if we can break that cycle it would make a huge difference.
“We want to provide motivational support for people to live in their homes for as long as they can.”
“Impairments should not be a barrier for people to be able to live life to the full.”
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