I’ve worked as a healthcare assistant for nine years now and I absolutely love it. My aim every day is to make people happy and make a small difference to their daily lives - and that makes me happy in return.
Working in a care home is like having loads of grannies and grandads. You get to have a special bond with all the residents. Whitecliffe House, where I work, is a small home with 26 beds so we’re all really close, like having a second family.
I was very close to my own nan, Peggy Browne. When she started getting frailer, our roles were reversed and I looked after her more and more. I first started working at the care home as a waitress but I thought I couldn’t be a care worker; that I couldn’t care for someone I wasn’t close to, that caring for my nan was different, and intimate situations like helping someone brush their teeth or personal care wouldn’t suit me. But after a stint waitressing at the local hospital, I was just drawn back to Whitecliffe House and the people there and I settled in straight away.
Now I know that caring for the elderly, whether it’s your nan or someone else’s grandparent is exactly the same - that everyone deserves to be given kindness and reassurance and respect. I can give that and enjoy doing it.
It doesn’t feel like work because it’s so rewarding
I work three 12-hour shifts from 7am to 7pm, which is physically tiring, and one six hour shift a week. Work is just a 10-minute walk from my house and I clock in 15 minutes before for a cup of tea with the team. After the daily handover, when I find out if anyone’s feeling poorly, I’ll help our residents with getting up and getting ready for the day. There’s a daily routine of mealtimes but I always like to sit down and have a gossip and I’ll join in with all the activities like balloon tennis, skittles and bingo.
People often ask if I ever wanted to be a nurse like my mum, but I’ve seen how much time has to be spent on paperwork and medication with just five minutes here and there to talk to patients, which is a part of the job I really love. It’s very important that the residents keep their independence, so I’m in the background to offer a helping hand when needed. Part of residents’ daily routine is to make sure their teeth are clean. It’s so important for their health that they don’t get mouth infections.
I always ask, ‘What do you want to do today?’ so they’re in charge and I try and make this their home rather than my work space. I know them so well that I can second-guess what they want the moment a bell rings.
One of our residents, Mandy, loves coming out with me. People make jokes about how we’re going for a drink again but she’s so switched on and having that independence is important. She loves the fresh air so, any time she wants to go out, I’ll try and take her. Even if I just have to go and pick up some prescriptions from the chemist, I always ask her whether she wants to come, just so she’s got the ability to be outside and break up the day.
My favourite part of my job is listening to the residents’ stories. Mandy used to be a model and she knew loads of famous people back in the day. When you take the trouble you hear them, the residents share so many hilarious and fascinating tales about their lives. I could sit there and listen to them for days.
A smile makes a difference
I feel a smile and a kind word goes a long way to making people happy. I’ve always believed even if you’ve had a bad time outside work, you have to leave it at the door. If you go in there with problems bearing down on you, you’re just going to make them feel worse. So I always try to go in with a smile and bring some sunshine in.
I was so shocked when a resident’s relative and another staff member nominated me for the Resident Engagement Award - and then I won and was presented with my award by the TV doctor, Hilary Jones. I just think engaging with the residents is my role; to me it doesn’t sound very exceptional but it was lovely to be noticed.
With a mission to create caring technology, like the Philips Sonicare range of electric toothbrushes and Philips Sonicare AirFloss, Philips aims to help people take care of their teeth and oral health at every stage of their lives.
Philips sponsors HumanKind.
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