I am 29 years old and come from South Africa. I am a remedial tutor and English teacher by profession. I would like to consider myself as having caring qualities that I can put to use as a live-in carer for Christies Care.
My journey began 2 months ago. After some research it was clear that Christies Care was by far the most renowned caring company in the UK. I filled out the simple online application and received feedback very shortly.
Kate was an absolute pleasure to liaise with as she ‘telephonically’ walked me through each step of the process during our telephone interview.
The most painstaking element was the tedious wait for my South African Police Clearance certificate in South Africa. I would advise getting this done as soon as possible if you intend registering to become a carer.
It all happened very quickly once the police clearance came through. The team at Christies are very efficient and sent through all the necessary Induction documentation almost immediately.
Travelling to another country can be very daunting but the team at Christies mapped out the way for me and eased most of the angst.
Upon arriving in London, Heathrow I found the bus, travelled to Ipswich, jumped on the train and headed for Saxmundham. It was quite funny because as I got off the train to start my walk to the guest house I noticed that 5 ladies were headed in the same direction. We were all headed to the same place -Christies! All of the ladies were South African too.
The guest house where we stayed for the 2 week training period was lovely. A daily breakfast was available as well as a fully equipped kitchen. The bedrooms were cosy and the house-keepers friendly and helpful. The guest house also had WiFi which made it very easy to keep in contact with family members back home.
The group of carers all felt as nervous as one another so it was lovely to all sit together over a cup of tea and have a chat.
The next morning started early as we prepared for our first day of training. We received our name tags and were greeted by a number of friendly staff. Our training team was made up of 6 wonderful people – Helen, Sarah, Colleen, Kerry, Louisa and Ian. We were made to feel welcome from the very first moment.
The training course was intensive and we were filled with information from the very first second. It can be quite daunting but it is vital to listen carefully, take notes and participate.
There is no such thing as a silly question!
The course had many elements and each day focused on a new, necessary component. The mornings generally consisted of the theoretical side and the afternoons were for the practical work. These practical sessions were such fun. We always had a good giggle and were guided by the trainers every step of the way.
There were three tests in the first week. As I mentioned before it is vital to listen and take notes. Christies Care’s standards are very high and a mark of 75% needs to be obtained in order to pass. It certainly is not a walk in the park and needs to be taken seriously. After all, the skills will be put to test in the real world.
Every evening after training all the carers would go for a walk through the beautiful little town of Saxmundham to wind down from the day’s information overload. Our group of carers become very close as we were all in the same boat and going through the same emotions.
The first Friday evening after training all the carers got together and gallivanted around the town in celebration of making it through that first grueling week.
The first weekend a few of us took the train to a little town about 30 minutes away. We had a wonderful day exploring, took loads of photos and went out for a proper pub lunch. The beach is very close to Saxmundham and it is just gorgeous.
In preparation for the next week of training, Sunday evening was when all the bits and pieces of tasks and homework were completed.
Monday morning of week two started as all the other days – theory and practical. My personal favourite was the moving and handling element. We even got to hoist each other around! A lot of thought is put into the training and all the trainers were very well prepared.
There is always the occasional evening when someone in the group is feeling homesick or overwhelmed but with your fellow carers offering hugs, you feel better almost immediately.
Each facet of the training was usually headed by a single trainer and each had their own individual teaching style which kept things interesting and varied.
In order to get your Care certificate, there are a number of modules which must be completed. Four booklets are completed during the two weeks of training. Ample time is given for the completion of the remaining modules but it is best to get started soonest.
As the second week drew to an end it all started becoming real. The carers were sent to the bookings team and possible jobs were presented to them. The people handling the bookings really put a lot of effort into pairing you with a client who they felt would be best suited to you. It is by no means a random match.
The course was ended off with Dementia training, headed by Helen Drain, a lady renowned for her knowledge and expertise on the subject.
I found that the group I was with was so diverse and it was easy to tell who took to which element.
At the end of the day on Friday we were given a hearty congratulations and welcomed to Christies as trained carers. It was a very emotional time of relief. We were handed our carer ID cards and all other documentation pertaining to our upcoming bookings.
Many of the carers were on their way home on the Friday and some on the Saturday and the goodbyes were emotional too!
Update training is done annually so I am looking forward to seeing my fellow carers again next year.
The support and well-being of the carers is taken very seriously by Christies Care. This makes the journey that much less unnerving. They provide their carers with a specialised team of people to assist in any way needed at any time of the day.
This journey has, by far, been the most exhilarating experience I have ever had!