TV celebrity Rylan recognises Oldham angels who took George under their wing

Date published: 24 March 2024

Oldham agency Visiting Angels has just been honoured by the British care industry and national celebrity Rylan Clark.

The couple behind the company, Roxie Taj and Badar Usmani, were saluted in the Innovation berth at the National Care awards at the Birmingham NEC.

And the X-Factor behind their success?

An almost familial interest in those they offer their service to, best illustrated by what some might describe as an “unlikely friendship” between 25-year-old Muslim carer Ursulaan Yousaf and the 93-year-old man he looks after.

Formed over a few months of caring, the bond has seen George, who has Alzheimer’s:

·       Resume going out for a walk and visiting his peaceful haven, Hollingworth Lake

·       Playing his favourite hobby Pool again, at his local pub and,

·       Had his wife saying – she fancies him again!

“It would be no exaggeration to say that George was following the cliched path of a person with dementia, losing contact with those around him and the world in general,” said Roxie.

"Unfortunately, the pain of gradually losing someone and being on the wrong end of their behaviours, can also mean significant relationship problems.

"When I heard George’s wife say she was in love with him again, I thought, “that’s why we set up Visiting Angels, that is what we are all about.”

Aside from their obvious compassion to those in need of care, Visiting Angels' other main ingredient is concern for their employees.

Staff there are the only ones in the entire sector who are hired with a career plan (and interviewed by the person they are looking after), enjoy a yearly pay rise, gain time back for their travel and an annual service for their work’s vehicle.

Unlike almost every other state care company, they insist that carers stay with those they look after for at least an hour - rather than be forced to just dispense medication and move on.

Prior to becoming a Visiting Angel, Ursulaan was a student diagnostic radiographer in NHS hospitals across the Midlands.

“I was more nervous than George when we first met but decided to roll my sleeves up and help him,” said “Ursy”, who along with his father also cares for an elderly neighbour.

“We both had a common interest in football and are Manchester United supporters.

"I took George to the National Football Museum, where the pictures of the Munich Air Disaster really touched him.”

Badar added: “Ursy has never missed a shift, and this is a match made in heaven.”

George’s wife Sheina said: “Visiting Angels are truly angels indeed.

"They recognised what our needs were and without them, I would be in a very dark place indeed.

"I now have a zest for living and more energy, thanks to George’s sparkling little companion!”

Visiting Angels won their place in the final having captured the Innovation Category at the North West version of the awards, first.

Badar added: “I hope that what we have achieved will serve as a benchmark for other providers and particularly as an example for those who fund them.

"This is a service, not a business.”

Visiting Angels Manchester East - set up in October 2022 - now cares for people across North and East Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Saddleworth and Tameside and has 17 members of staff.

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