A Consultus Carer Story
By Ainsley Dermody - Consultus Carer since 2000
‘The time has come’ the walrus said...
England has given me some great memories; the time has left me with a greater appreciation of what's important in life, and I have met some wonderful people from all over the world.
Thinking back over my time working as a carer for Consultus, I decided to do some maths. It turns out I’ve climbed Everest!
• 95% of houses I worked in were two stories high
• On average, these were 14 steps from ground floor to first floor
• I climbed those stairs roughly 10-12 times a day
• Working around nine months of the year, over roughly five years, I would have climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest!
So, over my 17 years with Consultus, I climbed Everest multiple times!
What I will miss
I will miss the beautiful brick-walled gardens at a number of my clients’ houses. What a joy to grow a garden surrounded by the old brick walls, weather worn, moss covered rose trellised. I loved seeing the old brick walls, so full of character, life and stories they could tell.
The latest walled gardens I've admired are in Hampton Court Palace Gardens. I will miss the glorious old trees I saw on my travels through the country. I loved seeing the oaks over growing the country lanes, oaks towering over sheep in the fields, and oaks in the parks.
I will miss driving the country roads, where it's only minutes between villages. I would have to slow down while driving the narrow winding roads between houses, whose front doors opened directly into the footpath. These were houses built in another century, another time; a time when horses and carts were the norm, not articulated trucks from all over Europe which get stuck on tight corners with stone walls, on roads driven down because that's what their satnav has said.
I will miss the melting pot of people I had the chance to meet. I always enjoyed visiting the local coffee shops to my client and asking where the local barista was from – Latvia, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Spain. I experienced so many different colours of different cultures and clothes. The taxi drivers I used sometimes were the same – coming from all over the world – and they would all say to me “I want to go to New Zealand” – my home country. My advice to them was: “Book it, and the rest will fall into place”.
What I won’t miss
Now, hospital visits I won't miss. I’ve been to hospitals all over the country; from Great Yarmouth, Princess Royal, The Spire, Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Chelsea to Westminster, Blackheath, The Sloan and Salford, Stoke Mandeville. I've probably forgotten some, but I got to know some of the hospitals very well (and made sure I knew the quickest way to the best local coffee shop!).
The caring jobs I have had over the years have generally been very pleasant, but sometimes they’ve been challenging for me. One aspect I found difficult in my role was working with dementia clients. Dementia is a rising condition, and that’s maybe because people are living longer. Dementia presents itself differently in each patient, but however it does, it is still debilitating for the whole family. It can show itself through confusion to violence, and how the client’s GP prescribes can make a huge difference to treatment and symptoms. However, I found that singing an old song with the client would often get past the tricky times – whether it was in tune or out!
Family support can be quite a fluctuation in concern. Often I find it’s the ‘English Reticence’, with so many children sent off to boarding school at a young age. They may not be brought up with a hands-on family and learn the practicalities of running a home; the type of relatives who would ask "will Mummy get better from Dementia?" But sometimes I had clients at the other end of the scale, with the mother having been beautifully cared for with a purpose built home, wet bathroom, and every amenity. There would be a car for the carer, and I’d be given a generous budget for groceries.
Friends and travel
Some clients had housekeepers, not necessarily live-in but they may have been a part of the household for years. I have made good friends with some of the housekeepers during my time as a carer; having met up during time off for lunch or for a coffee. I've even flown to Glasgow to spend Easter with a housekeeper who I became close with!
A big part of working over here, in both demanding and privileged positions, and besides the lovely homes, great people and cold frosty mornings, is the ease of travel. I have had some fabulous holidays, to wonderful destinations; from Marrakech to Montenegro, Bosnia to Bruges, Corfu to Croatia. I can't choose a favourite, because every one is a winner for me. The people and cultures, food and climates. I hope to do a whole lot more before I'm too old and weak to carry a bag up the stairs to Everest.