Christina Medway-Steel (Chrissie) is Care Manager at Emmaus House, our home in Harrogate. We spoke to her as she prepared to take on the role.
My first experience of care was aged 16, working as a care assistant in a care home. I loved it! I’d just moved to Harrogate to live with my dad. I’d started a BTEC at the local college and the role in the care home was my part-time job.
What I loved most was that I could see people making a difference.Some skills can be learned, but having a kind heart is the most important thing. I was astonished by the lengths I saw people go to in making sure those they were caring for were comfortable and happy.
I remember one man who was dying. He was very frightened. I sat with him all night and held his hand. I was around 18 at the time and this experience had a great impression on me. I felt like I had made a real difference to someone when they were at their most vulnerable.
From care assistant, I’ve worked my way up to the role of manager. This has given me a really deep understanding of what the work involves. As a manager, I’ll never have to ask anyone to do something that I haven’t done myself.
One of my roles was in a home caring for those with disabilities and acquired brain injuries. There was one man there who I worked with very closely, helping him to do more and more for himself. Eventually, he got to a stage where he could move out of the care home and live independently. As a team, that gave us an overwhelming sense of achievement.
My passion for care has led me to be bold. My first role in management was at a day centre caring for those with learning disabilities. It was supposed to be a short-term role as the centre was due to close down. When I saw how much it was needed, I begged the authorities to keep it open. I was told I had three weeks to show them I could make it work. When I left four years later, there was a waiting list for places. People used to come every day and did classes in everything from arts and crafts and woodwork to computer skills. It made such as difference.
For those living in elderly care homes, it’s more important than ever to get care right. This could be a person’s very last home. You need to listen to their wishes and do your best to meet them. It’s not about them fitting in with the home but about you tailoring the care to them.
Being able to care for the whole person includes caring for their spiritual needs. In the previous home where I worked, several of the residents were interested in receiving Holy Communion. I invited in the local vicar and my son came and played his keyboard. It was really well-received by those living there.
I feel very blessed to be joining Emmaus House, where the Christian faith is so central to everything. I am looking forward to it!
My own Christian faith has its roots in my childhood. When I was a little girl, I went to church and was christened. As a teenager, I fell out of love with church and stopped going, but later as an adult I reconnected and started going to one of the bigger churches in Harrogate.
As a family, we found our current church through my son, Ollie, now 14. When he was at primary school, there was a man called Matthew who came in to talk to the children. Ollie was always telling us about Matthew and how he made them all laugh. One day, we were out and about and bumped into Matthew. He invited us to his church and we’ve been there every since.
One of my favourite hymns is ‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’. I remember from when I was little that it was my Nana’s favourite. We had it at her funeral, and my husband and I had it as part of our marriage ceremony. It has really powerful resonances for me. (See a clip of those at Emmaus House singing the hymn here).
My husband also works in care. I think hearing all my stories over the years helped inspire him to change jobs. He does shifts supporting individuals in their own homes. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic especially, this has been a real lifeline for people.
As a family, we love to spend time at the beach. As well as Ollie, we have a daughter, Melody who is nine. We all love going to look in rock pools – Saltburn on the North Yorkshire coasts in one of our favourite spots. And the children know that if we go to the beach, fish and chips for tea is a surefire guarantee. The holiday abroad that we’d planned for earlier this year was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so we’ve been going on lots of day trips instead.
As Chrissie prepares to start her role, she would love you pray:
- That God would open her eyes to any learning that she can do
- That she would be the best that she can be for the family members and staff at Emmaus House
- That the home would be kept free from Covid
Could you make your home at Emmaus House? Find out more