✏️ Interview conducted by Christopher Cawley
A few weeks ago, we spoke to young healthcare workers on the frontline of the battle against Coronavirus.
This week we spoke to Kathy to find out what it’s like as a young care worker and how Coronavirus has impacted her, and why society needs to change. She aims to show that the fight is not yet over and that we must still do our best as a society to keep the most vulnerable as safe as possible!
Since she works for a private company, she has asked to be anonymised.
Hi Kathy! Tell us a bit more about your role?
I’m a care worker, working in and out of private homes, care homes, that sort of thing. Basically my job is to help the disabled or elderly function in the later stages of their life.
Most of my job includes providing personal care to people. It can range from shopping to wiping bums. Though most of the work is making sure the elderly have company. I go round to clients, for hour or two hour periods and help them get on with their lives. Often they like to have cups of tea and chat, their beds made, papers organised, that sort of thing. We also help with their medication and creams.
It’s a tough job to be honest, moving from place to place, working 9 hours a day, 6 days a week, but rewarding in the end.
What made you want to get into care work?
After seeing my parents die, I felt like I wanted to give back to people in some way. This was perfect for me because you can really see your value to the elderly clients you work with. For me and for most people in this line of work to be honest, that’s why we do it.
I’ve also always been good with people and I think this is a good way for me to utilise my skills I suppose.
How have things changed for you since Covid-19?
Not an awful lot. There was initially a lot more work to start with, where the other girls went into self-isolation. It meant longer hours, but that can be a good thing if you’re on a zero-hour contract. More recently there’s a lot of new people coming on board from other industries because they’ve been furloughed. The training processes aren’t too long because a lot of the work isn’t that technical, so it means we can have people starting fairly quickly.
There’s been quite a few people from the travel industry, a few air hostesses, almost entirely female too. I suppose it’s unsurprising considering the state of the market.
Healthcare staff like yourself are on the front line and therefore more vulnerable to getting ill. How does this make you feel?
Pretty indifferent, for people our age it doesn’t appear to be that impactful. We’ve been provided with a lot of PPE and given quite strict guidance. As long as I stick to the guidance it doesn’t worry me too much. My biggest concern would be passing it to my clients. Of course they’re more vulnerable in this scenario so if any colleagues have presented symptoms, they’ve taken precautions and self isolated immediately. Most of the time it has been overly cautious, but I think that’s the best approach to take.
There’s been a lot of negative coverage about young people, making it look like young people weren’t taking this situation seriously. How did that make you feel, knowing what you do as a young person?
This frustrates me for two reasons really, largely because there are groups of people who are undermining all the work key workers are doing. Thousands of individuals have died unnecessarily during this crisis, a lot of those deaths could have been avoided. So yes it is frustrating to drive past parks filled with people, or see individuals in the paper lounging on beaches.
But the second thing that I find frustrating about this, is the fact that it has largely been directed at young people. It’s not just young people, there are people of all ages not social distancing. But I suppose it’s pedantic to start infighting between generations, really we should all be working together, social distancing and encouraging others to do the same, no matter our age.
What are you hopeful for once all this is over?
I think the biggest thing that’s come out of this scenario is how much people have taken to nature. People have really learnt to love their homes again. Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with the large crowds I’ve seen in parks, but I do agree with people enjoying these green spaces whilst socially distant. I think this has been a great opportunity to undo a lot of the damage we’ve done to the environment, look at pollution levels for example. Why can’t this be a watershed moment?
I also hope that people take their own health more seriously at the end of all of this. For a lot of people, life is full-on, constantly, and this period has allowed people to take it down a gear. I think that can only be a good thing. Sometimes life can be a little overwhelming and we just need some time to assess where we are and how we feel.
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