Helen McKay-Ferguson, Marketing & Communications Officer for Pilgrims’ Friend Society, spoke to medical student Seth about his rewarding experience as a carer
Being knighted with a walking stick is just one of the moments that stands out for Seth when he thinks back to his time working for our home Emmaus House, Harrogate. “I had a really good relationship with one particular lady,” he says. “One morning, getting her dressed was proving tricky, and so a colleague asked if I could come and help. Finally, as I was putting her socks on, she knighted me with her walking stick and said, ‘Arise, Sir Seth.’”
As well as being a touching moment that made him smile, the incident brought home to Seth the importance of working in a team and playing to different people’s strengths. “Because I didn’t usually do that lady’s personal care, I was removed from the situation and could help out,” he says. “There were times when I was in a similar situation and needed support from colleagues. One carer, for example, was amazing at doing baths, and so I’d go to her for help.”
Seth is now 20 and a third year medical student at the University of Liverpool. When he began his placement in an A&E department, he found the ability to work as a team and draw on the strengths of others was vital. He says,
For medical students, there’s the temptation to ‘be the best’ and do everything yourself. In reality, things go better when you can let others step in.
The experience of caring for older people also helped Seth to develop communication skills. “One lady would get really upset when I went to clean her dentures. She saw me as the man who steals her teeth. I realised that I could solve the problem by bringing a bowl of water into the room and cleaning them in front of her, instead of in the bathroom. That way, it was clear to her what I was doing.”
Being able to communicate clearly and visibly with those who might be feeling anxious or confused has proved similarly invaluable to Seth in his role as a medical student. “If I’m taking blood, for example, I’ll explain to the patient exactly what I’m going to do,” he says. “I’ll tell them they’ll feel a small scratch and then I’ll put a plaster on.”
Part of the reason Seth chose to work as carer during his gap year was to gain experience and develop skills relevant to his chosen profession. At Pilgrims’ Friend Society, we know that the carers working across our homes possess a huge array of skills. This and the compassion they have for the older people who choose to make their home with us ensures that we can offer a high standard of care.
Today, therefore, we ask that you will join us by praying:
- That the skill of those who care for older people would get the recognition it deserves, and that this would be reflected in government policy,
- That more young people like Seth would see caring as a promising career opportunity, and choose to work in a caring role,
- That the Lord would be sustaining all of our carers as they continue to serve the older people in our homes in the midst of the challenging circumstances posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Emmaus House provides a cosy home for older people in Harrogate. Find out more about life at the home