“I left my former job as a lab technician at King’s College London around the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March.
“I had no idea what I was going to do next, and with so many people coming out of work at that time, it seemed a bit of a disaster, to be honest.
“But I knew I wanted to do something useful. I’d heard the social care sector was recruiting. I’m a naturally chatty person and love working with people, so applying to be a care worker seemed like a great idea.
“My dad is a staff nurse in a nursing home in Belfast and I’ve always been interested in the work he does. We had a chat on the phone and he told me that there was an urgent need for more social care staff, especially as the pandemic was taking hold.
“He said he thought it would be good for me, and good for the people I would be working with, during such a difficult time. Domiciliary (home) care seemed like a good fit for me: I love talking to people, I like being out and about and I’m used to being on my feet all day.
“There’s a domiciliary care provider on the street where I live so I applied, had an interview and started work in April.
“I loved care work from the moment I started, and was able to take a lot of skills I’d learned in my previous job – good hygiene practices, safe waste disposal, reliability, good timekeeping, multitasking effectively and handling difficult situations in a professional way.
“It was tough at the start, but the people we support were always so grateful and my colleagues so supportive that I was surprised how quickly I learnt.
“Typically, I visit six or seven people in their homes each day, though it might be up to ten on a busy day. Some recipients are young, some are elderly; people with dementia, one person with Parkinson’s disease, others with spina bifida, cerebral palsy and learning difficulties, and someone on the autistic spectrum.
“I enable people to get up out of bed, aiding them with personal care, helping to prepare meals, supporting them with tidying, and sometimes getting groceries – it’s so varied.
“Every day I go to work, I feel I make a difference. Whenever a person I’m supporting smiles or takes my hand or says thank you, I feel good about what I’m doing with my time.
“The rewards in care work are emotional ones – the simplest task makes such a difference to the life of the person I am working with.
“I’m often exhausted at the end of the day, but I go home knowing I’ve done something worthwhile with my time. This job has changed my outlook on life. I appreciate things a lot more, and feel proud of my career.
“I’m moving back to Northern Ireland soon and can’t wait to get into care work in Belfast – whether it’s in a care home or in domiciliary care. My dad is so proud of me. Who knows, we may even end up working in the same place, which would be fantastic!”
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