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  • Writer's pictureKrystle Wong

“You Need to Have a Calling” – Interview with Care Worker Maria C.

Updated: Apr 30

Formerly a police officer in her home country Zimbabwe, Maria C. is no stranger to helping people. She entered care work at a time when she was looking for something new and sensed that this was her calling. Here’s her story with Tresacare:

Care worker Maria C. holding a certificate of training completion with Tresacare founder Elizabeth Beh

Hi Maria, tell us about yourself.

I currently work at Shalom Support as a care worker. I moved to the UK in July 2021, just after the pandemic. Before that I was a police officer in Zimbabwe for 12 years. I worked with many people and helped them in extremely challenging situations.

That’s a lot of experience. How did you decide to join the care industry in the UK?

In 2021 I was looking for greener pastures. With my experience I thought it would be a good idea for me to come to the UK. Since I had worked for 3 years in a hospital, I managed to get my first job in the care industry in Birmingham. 

Amazing! I’m glad it worked out. What was it like when you first arrived?

When I first arrived life was difficult because I couldn’t find enough hours to work in care. I enjoyed the work as it was something new. You go from one house to another, meet new people, attend training. But the work was challenging. Many patients have challenging behaviors, for example, mental or sleeping disorders. Some are self-harming. It can be traumatising. 

That does sound challenging. How do you cope? 

You end up adapting. You get a lot of training when you enter care, especially on how to handle challenging behaviors. So it wasn’t a surprise to me that it was going to be difficult. But it is a lot of stress for the care worker. 

When did you discover Tresacare?

About 6 months into care work, Liz (founder of Tresacare) contacted my company and I was sent for her training. It was enriching. I learned new ways to cope with the circumstances of my job. 

What sort of things did you learn from Tresacare?

For 3 months, we did things like yoga and meditation to improve our mental health. Liz runs a Wellbeing Gym for activities like that. We were actively taught how to manage stress caused by challenging behaviors at work. The main aim of the activities was to manage our stress. 

And did it work? 

Yes! It enriched my mind. I was very happy to have something like that in my life. Because I can be quite a reserved person, I don’t have many friends. I am still living in an isolated place. Now I am able to manage my stress better than before. 

Could you share an example with me?

We used yoga and meditation. It helps me to process what happens [on the job] and relieve stress. Tresacare also encourages us to take action, to be proactive and set targets. If you are stressed, for example, when you reach home you could pick up a book and start writing or drawing. Whatever you choose, you just keep going. By the time you finish your activity, you feel better. Or you can play some music. 

Also, do physical exercise. Yoga is good. And these days there are apps that help you count steps. 

Were these techniques new for you?

I have experience with meditation and I go to the gym. But yoga was new to me. I learned that at Tresacare. We also had a communication workshop. 

A graduating class of care workers sitting outdoors on the steps after completing 3 months of Tresacare training

What was the communication workshop about?

They told us that UK people are not loud. You have to learn to lower your voice when you're talking to people. It was new to me. Some of things I knew already, like saying “please” and “sorry.” But I didn’t know about the loudness! 

[We both laugh. Loudly.]

Anyway, I can now apply emotional balance. Emotional intelligence. I know how to relieve stress if I’m stressed out by patients. I take care of my mental health. Patients actually like me more and some have even changed their behaviors. They told the manager: “We like Maria because she understands our problems.” 

Do you feel you have changed much?

I didn’t actually change much… Because Liz caught me “young”, just as I was starting in the field. At the time I had only 6 months in care work. I graduated from Tresacare with more skills and knowledge. I can now apply emotional balance and intelligence.

So the training was well-timed?

Yes. Liz caught me “early” so I could enter the field equipped. You could say it’s optional and that you could just learn from other employees. But when you’re working with patients, you have passion and want to do the job well. I’m grateful that I got that experience from Liz.

There aren't enough care workers in the UK right now. What advice would you give to new care workers?

I advise them to consider Liz’s Wellbeing Gym seriously because it’s so helpful. Care work involves people who are passionate about the sick and patients with challenging behaviors. With Tresacare care workers can learn how to manage their stress.  

At the same time…you have to have a calling. Not everyone is suitable for care work.

What do you mean by a “calling”? Can you describe it?

If you have the calling, you will have the enjoyment and patience to listen and help sick people. But if you don’t have patience and you’re quick to anger, you won’t enjoy the work. This is not the right job to take. 

Their problems may not be real to you, but they are real to the patients. For example, if someone has OCD and says “my hands are dirty”, you might think: “How can they be dirty if you just washed them?” But you shouldn’t say that. Her problem is real to her

What's the right thing to do in such a situation? 

You give space to where she is. You bear with it. You help her wash her hands until she feels they are clean. You allow it. You help take away the pressure she feels. If you can’t bear it, care work is totally the wrong occupation for you. 

You mentioned “enjoyment” for the work. Is that how you experience care work?

Yes. The job is good because you save other people’s lives. That’s what care work is about. But it is a calling. You need to have it. 

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