For those working the care home profession this year has been a particularly tough and challenging one.
Whilst many of us will be tucking into our turkey dinners, Domiciliary Care Workers will be continuing to look after those not able to be with their families.
Emma Cartmill, Greg Tumilty and Claire Byrne are just a few of those who will all be working on Christmas Day this year in the Newry and Mourne area.
Have you worked Christmas day before? (If so what has it been like or if not what are expecting?)
Emma said: “I am expecting it to be a lot different, especially under this year’s circumstances of coronavirus. Many clients have family overseas and have been told that they will not be able to spend Christmas this year together.
“This is sad, as Christmas is the time of year to spend with your loved ones. It will be quite the experience working Christmas Day this year, as any other Christmas Says were spent at home with my family.”
This is not a first for Greg but he said this year will be different, adding: “A lot of the service users won’t have seen much of their families due to the pandemic so it’s important to keep a positive attitude with them.”
Claire commented that in previous years Christmas had been just another “normal happy day”.
Obviously, Christmas Day is going to be very different for many of the patients, how are you going to keep spirits high this year?
“It is important to keep spirits high after what we have experienced in 2020, “said Emma, “I will ensure others that we have 2021 to look forward too when things get better.
“We may be the only form of contact to these individuals this Christmas due to Covid-19 restrictions. I will ensure to work with a smile and go the extra mile.”
Greg says he is keen to engage in as much conversation as possible with the addition of the odd song or two!
And Claire said she would be making it “a normal happy and joyful day with a few Christmas songs”.
Describe how it has been working through the pandemic?
Emma said she had enjoyed working through the pandemic but admitted it had been a “very stressful experience”.
“Not only are you trying to keep yourself safe, but you also must keep your clients, colleagues, and family safe by wearing the provided PPE,” she said. “I found it very overwhelming at the start, but throughout, it has become the new normal. I have also enjoyed the fast paced working environment as more requirements were needed over this time.”
Greg said: Working through the pandemic has been tough for a lot of families this year as well as care staff. With all the PPE we have to wear, service users don’t even get the chance to see a friendly face for that smile.”
Meanwhile, Claire stated: “It has been very strange, scary and worrying at times, having to leave my family to go to work and afraid of getting the virus and passing it on to them, but I’m glad I was able to stay at work to look after my service users and keep them safe and reassured at all times, especially when their own family couldn’t call to them.”
It what has been a difficult year, are there any positives which you have been able to take from it?
“This year, I have been able to spend more time with my family. It also made me appreciate the smaller things in life, such as going out with friends and spending time with my grandparents,” said Emma.
Greg stated: “The public generally have been very kind and understanding this year in particular thankful for the care we can continue to bring to their closest relatives.”
Claire added that she had learned to be more thankful for her family.
How do you feel about the reaction from members of the public to the work you have done?
Emma said: “With regards to members of the public, I am proud to say that I am a domiciliary care worker during this time. This is very rewarding, as I have spent this year on the front line.”
“Members of the public have been kind and understanding in this difficult time and it feels of some importance to us that we are appreciated,” added Greg
With Claire saying: “I feel the public are more understanding of our job, and people appreciate us more through the challenging times.”
What are your plans for Christmas, how will you be celebrating this year?
Emma said: “I will be celebrating with my family, and ensuring social distancing when out to keep everyone safe as we enter into 2021.”
Meanwhile, Greg stated: “Christmas for me this year will be spent with the service users hopefully bringing them a bit of Christmas cheer – I’ll get my dinner at some stage throughout the day!”
For Claire it will be a celebration in the morning with family, before spending the rest of the day with the service users and co-workers, she said the was “no better way to spend the day!”