JUST a smile or brushing their hair.

It’s the little things that can make a big difference when you care for another person.

Now carers from across Oxfordshire have been thanked for their efforts in a new awards scheme set up by the county branch of Age UK.

Churchill Hospital nurse Emma Sanders, of Old Marston, was nominated by Angela Pugh, the sister of one of the patients she cared for in the last months of her life.

The 34-year-old, a staff nurse at the long stay oncology ward, said: “If I can do something which makes a difference to somebody whether it is a smile or brushing their hair then that’s what matters to me.”

She attended the ceremony with her three-month-old daughter Ella, holding her as she went to pick up the award.

Michelle Rogers, a volunteer carer at The Homestead in Carterton was nominated by Tracey Garwood, who manages volunteers at the care home.

Miss Rogers was praised for giving up her time three days a week to go to talk to residents, staff and family members, walking a mile and a half to work every shift.

She said: “I was very excited to receive the award.”

Her mum Marion Rogers, who is also a care assistant at The Homestead, added: “The residents and the care staff have brought her out of herself.

“I’m very proud today – she’ll take the certificate to the Homestead first for it to be displayed there for people to have a look at.”

Ferendune Court Care Home in Faringdon was nominated by Julie Bell, the daughter of current resident and Alzheimer’s sufferer Margery, who is 92.

Jeanette Brown, a senior care home assistant, at Merryfield Nursing Home in New Yatt Road, Witney, was nominated by Marie Jane Anderson, who has also been a work colleague for 11 years.

The nomination focused on how she always considered the residents’ needs.

Carole Wightman, a domiciliary carer from Holton received an award for looking after Margaret Rosenthal, a 97-year-old living in Wheatley, who is keen to stay living independently.

The Dignity Every Day awards were organised by Age UK Oxfordshire, which held a special ceremony at Oxford’s Randolph Hotel in Oxford yesterday.

Nominations came in from all over the county and the five winners were picked by panel of older people with a background and interest in care.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith presented the awards.

Paul Cann, Chief Executive of Age UK Oxfordshire, said “We wanted to highlight the exceptional care practice displayed by many every day in Oxfordshire.

“We are mounting this initiative because we believe it is as important to celebrate good practice in care as it is to deplore the failings.”

The winners were:

  • Emma Saunders, 34, a staff nurse at the long stay oncology ward at the Churchill Hospital, said: “I do my job because I enjoy what I do, I work with cancer patients with their treatment, emergency care and end of life care. I meet some lovely people and to get an award like this I’m very pleased.”
  • Michelle Rogers, 29, a volunteer carer at The Homestead care home, Carterton, said: “It was a bit of a surprise and I was very excited and I’d like to thank the people at The Homestead and their staff.”
  • Carole Wightman, a domiciliary carer from Holton, said: “I was really shocked to win considering the number of people who were entered. I have thoroughly enjoyed today – I work every day, seven days a week and am always up early in the morning.”
  • Samantha Bell, manager of the Ferendune Court Care Home in Faringdon, said: “When we got the phone call on Monday it was a big surprise. We have 80 staff at the home and this is for all of them as the nomination mentioned the whole team.”