Care is a demanding profession. As we all know, recruiting and retaining staff is one of the biggest challenges facing the sector. Care demands not only technical skill, but also meticulous organisation and an open, yet resilient, spirit. Over the past eleven days, we have highlighted people with varying levels of experience rising to the challenge of care. Our twelfth carer of Christmas is someone who has recently come to understand what this takes.

Athena Louw moved to the UK from South Africa early last year. She had been a teacher during her time in South Africa, and had moved to the UK for a change. As with many immigrants, Athena’s first priority was getting a job to keep her going. After several months, she would eventually find herself working for My Homecare Reading in December 2018.  

Transitioning into a carer’s role is rarely straightforward, even for a teacher. Athena was understandably nervous to start. She relied on her experience, patience and grace to help her grow into the role. 

Laila Mohammed, her manager, shares what it was like to watch Athena develop:

Athena started with us having no care experience and came across very timid. We were unsure how long she would last but we’re pleased to say Athena has gone from strength to strength and has grown to be an exemplary care worker. Athena is very supportive, she motivates others, and she has received great feedback from our clients.  

She enjoys the work she does [and] most of all she provides an outstanding level of care to the people she looks after. [Athena] has been known to spend more time with her clients to ensure that they are having a home-cooked meal. She is a gem and asset to our team.

It’s one thing to develop an understanding of the basic mechanics of care; it’s quite another to develop the drive to go the extra mile. That is the drive that keeps carers in after appointments making extra dinners. And it’s that drive that makes carers reach inside of themselves and share a part of themselves amongst their clients/service users/friends every day. Athena would be the first to admit that it was thanks, in large part, to the network of professional support available to her at My Homecare Reading.

Care is a demanding profession. Rising to the challenge of care can be as exhausting as it can be rewarding. That is why we are so thankful for those who support our loved ones in their hardest hours. As well as their colleagues and friends who support them to keep going when the going gets tough. Thank you to all the carers out there, and Merry Christmas!