A Swansea couple who have devoted their lives to caring for their severely disabled foster son who was not expected to live past his 16th birthday have scooped a top national care award.
Elaine Bastin, 75, and her husband of 55 years Len, 78, spoke of their ‘total surprise’ at being announced winners at the prestigious 2018 Wales Care Awards held at Cardiff’s City Hall.
The couple – who live in Bishopston and are foster carers on the Shared Lives Scheme – won gold in the category for Promoting Fulfilled Lives, sponsored by Boots Healthcare, in recognition of the difference they have made over the last 28 years to their foster son G’s life.
Elaine said the awards evening was an unforgettable experience. “We didn’t expect to win but it was such a wonderful surprise, although it didn’t really sink in until the Monday morning! There were so many people at the awards and it was a fabulous way to recognise all those who are caring for others in the community.”
The Bastins had been put forward for the award by their Shared Lives Coordinator, Ron James, to publicly acknowledge and reward them for their total dedication to their foster son.
Retired driver Len and former hairdresser Elaine had already fostered over 40 children with learning and physical disabilities when they were introduced to the then 14-year-old G.
Warned that his complex health needs meant he wasn’t going to reach adulthood, the determined couple took their new foster son home and, thanks to their dedication, he remains a central part of their family, 28 years on.
Blind, with cerebral palsy and a rare form of epilepsy that was causing up to 60 seizures a week G. who is now 42, requires round the clock care and support. But with his love of classical music, hot chilli sauce, holidays and being by the sea, the couple continue to do whatever they can to provide a loving home for G.
“We hope we have given him a life he is happy with, and we will keep going until we drop. We couldn’t do it without each other,” said Elaine.
The couple also have two adopted sons and with the support of their family, which now includes five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, G continues to confound his doctors.
Friends and family joined in to congratulate the couple on their Wales Care Award at a double celebration for Elaine’s 75th birthday, two days after the ceremony.
“When my family heard we had won, they were jumping for joy and so we made my birthday a double celebration. The award is now in the front room, right where everyone can see it!”
The couple have also dedicated their Wales Care Award to all home carers.
“Caring is not easy, it is a hard task, for us it is 24-hour nursing care and it’s wonderful to be recognised. This award isn’t just for us, it is for everyone who cares for a loved one at home,” Elaine added.
Organised by the Care Forum Wales, the 2018 Wales Care Awards were sponsored by Onyx Healthcare.
Congratulating the Bastins on their award, Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “There are only winners here tonight, so it is only fitting that the finalists have receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.
“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.
“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales. We take our hats off to them.”