A CARE company in Blackburn is launching a scheme to give more independence to the people it looks after.

Choice Care says it has stepped in with Freedom Buddies to bridge the gap between public transport and local services.

Bosses at the Furthergate firm hope their “wraparound care” offering will make it easier to visit the essentials, like town centres, their GP or hospitals, and to keep them in touch when it comes to social functions like weddings, christenings and baby-sitting, through adapted transport and support.

Andrew Key, managing director, said: “Over recent years public transport has improved to make their services much more accessible and that has been a great step forwards.

“But we know that there are still problems for many people who have difficulty getting out because they need a level of care and support. Freedom Buddies is the answer to that issue.

“We spent a year looking into the problems people face and how this type of service might resolve those issues, and how it marries up with current regulations.”

The company, which offers domiciliary care, has been operating for more than 20 years, and is already a registered provider with the Care Quality Commission.

He added: “This has meant we have been able to ensure that this service works very well as a wraparound care and support service within care regulation and standards.

“The care team are all NVQ qualified, experienced and trained care professionals.

“We are not a taxi service and people wanting to book the service must have a care and support need.

“One problem for those closest to the client was also finding someone able to go into a health appointment with the client.

“So as long as we have consent to do so we can also include that level of service, further alleviating some additional problems experienced by the client’s family.

Fiona Key, the company’s co-owner and a former nurse, says she has experience of dementia with family members, and knows how difficult it can be securing the right kind of assistance.

Carers with Freedom Buddies are able to help with personal needs and the administration of medication.

The wider group works closely with Blackburn with Darwen and Bury councils, as well as East Lancashire Hospice and local clinical commissioners, and has had finalists in the Great British Care Awards last year.

In 2017, their employee Minhadjuddan Patel was named National Home Carer of the Year at the same ceremony.