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How being a live-in carer changed my life

Angela Murison, a live-in carer who trained with us in April, talks about her experience so far at Helping Hands and how it has changed her life…

“I joined Helping Hands because the company happened to be recruiting in South Africa, and after having personal experience of caring for someone else, I wanted to find out more…

On completing the paperwork and buying a return ticket, I came to Stratford-upon-Avon and stayed in the free accommodation. Very basic student-type bunk beds, but I met the most amazing people from all over the world. Young girls from Portugal, ladies my age from north England and people from different cultures and religions.

The breakfasts offered a wide variety to choose from and the coffee and tea were free flowing. I met staff at the office that went out of their way to help and assist me. The training was well run and interesting. Some of it was basic general knowledge that I was already familiar with as I had raised a child, ran a household and lived with my partner. I took the opportunity of a driving lesson as some road signs were new to me. Lunches were great, and for dinner I found local stores selling healthy ready-made meals.

I received my first placement offer on the last day of my training and set off for Wales the following day. All my transportation was arranged for me and everyone was very helpful. As a South African, I was not aware that my safety and wellbeing were Helping Hands’ first priority.

My first client was a disabled lady in a wheelchair. I had completed the moving and handling training but was very nervous as this was my first placement. Turned out I was really good at what I did for her. I had the skills to change her catheter bag and use the turner to get her up. Her use of the commode was not the two-minute highlight of my day – but I survived with a good supply of gloves!

We spent time watching Egyptology videos and I streamed some new Egyptology You Tube videos for her. I got to know her friends and the local village. My two-hour breaks were spent perusing the charity shops and buying designer clothes at a fraction of the price. I thoroughly enjoyed making dinners and dessert in the evenings, and taking her out in her wheelchair and vehicle required good preparation and allowing plenty of time. Best of all, we had an adventure.

I was then offered a position with a 93-year-old man with dementia – also in Wales – so off I went. Once again, well-organised transport was provided and my Live-in Care Manager and her assistant kept in touch with me. I had a lot of experience long ago with three-year-olds and was able to cope really well. When I was unsure, I had access to the office support staff till 10pm at night, and my manager encouraged me to do some additional courses. I have enjoyed learning more about the elderly and subjects I had never thought of before. I am also very proud of all the certification I have achieved on my own and with the help of the Helping Hands learning portal.

There is a very serious and responsible element to looking after another individual, especially an adult. I take the daily log and MAR seriously and the financial responsibility with serious respect.

One of the best things has been the great outings I have been on with my clients and the places I have seen on our outings. Having watched Eat Pray Love a number of times, I feel as though I am on an ‘Eat’ chapter, as I have been fortunate to have been to some wonderful restaurants and music bars with my gentleman and long walks during the day in some of the beautiful parks in Wales. We’ve also taken bus journeys into the city and walks in the Cardiff Bay. I have met many dogs on their walks and met interesting people too. Coffee shops with Wi-Fi and good coffee are in abundance during my two-hour breaks every afternoon.

I have learnt to live in the moment; to be happy no matter what and to collect memories not things. People remember you for how you make them feel, not how you dress, how much make up you have or how expensive your shoes are. I now wear comfortable practical clothes and love my life.

Since leaving South Africa and joining Helping Hands in the United Kingdom, my life has completely changed. Helping Hands staff have gone out of their way to assist me both in my career and personal life – from supplying letters of employment for opening bank accounts, driving and insurance advice, to placements to keep me busy and time off to relax and take care of me. The office has assisted me with support numbers, nursing staff, doctors visits, understanding medication and many other concerns I have had.

I have learnt to sing and dance at breakfast time, stop and listen to the birds, smell all the roses, wonder at the buttercups and daisies in the green grass, go shopping in the rain, leave the dishes to go for a walk in the sunshine, marvel at the red sunsets at 9 o’ clock at night. I have also learnt how to wash soiled underwear, supervise gardeners, run a diary for someone else, find entertainment for clients, change dressings, load wheelchairs, walk slowly and safely on cobbled stones. Most importantly, I learnt to have empathy and understanding whilst being responsible for another human being.

The ancient dust of Africa feeds my roots and the beauty of England feeds my soul; my customers make my life have meaning and purpose again.

I have had the most wonderful time at Helping Hands. The training equipped me for my first two placements and I have experienced the most incredible support from my manager Wendy and her team in the office.

So, thank you for recruiting in South Africa and thank you for wonderful managers and support teams.”

Angela Murison, Live-in Carer

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