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“I love my job,” says 56-year-old live-in carer, Chris Adams. After working in a residential care home, Chris now lives with and cares for 84-year-old Betty Shorey, who has full-blown dementia – and says it’s the best job she’s ever had.
“I really enjoyed the old people at the residential care home but I didn’t like the environment. When you’ve got 27 residents and only three staff, it felt impossible to look after anybody properly – you simply didn’t have the time. It upset me so much that I left.”
Chris also felt as a residential carer, she didn’t really have the support she needed. “At the care home, I felt there just wasn’t the time for team work. At Trinity, I know the staff are there for me. If ever I’ve got a problem, I can just pick up the phone and someone will help.”
Now that she lives with Betty, Chris feels able to give more heartfelt care – the kind of care that she had wanted to give at the residential care home but just didn’t have the time to do.
“In a care home, you don’t get to know the oldies like I know Betty. Live-in care is so much more personal.”
Certainly, Betty and Chris enjoy each spending time together: cooking dinner, cleaning the house, colouring in and even dancing. Betty’s always up for some waltzing in the front room, and when they’re not practising their dance moves, they’ll be found stretching and exercising in the living room. Despite Betty’s difficulties with memory and sense of time, she is extremely fit and keeps Chris on her toes.
“We have so much fun and I just take each day as it comes,” says Chris. “Every day is different. This week for example, Betty has not been sleeping very well. She’s been up at 4am and wandering around the house. She’s also been a little up and down in her mood but she knows that I am always here for her.”
The two of them are obviously very close.
“I love Betty – she’s more like my Nan. She’s family.”
Despite Betty’s difficulties with memory – she always seems to remember Chris. “We talk to my family by Skype when we’re together, so she knows I need to go and visit them but she often says to me: “I look out that window, waiting for you to come back.” And wait she does. Every time Chris returns from her week off, Betty recognises her car and will be seen waiting for her by the front door.
And Chris misses Betty too. “I wish I could take her with me when I go,” she says.
Chris has always been drawn to caring for others. Raising her own children as a single mum meant that she was always focused on earning, rather than doing a job she loved.
“I’ve always had a very caring nature,” she says. “As well as looking after my own kids, I was often bringing home waifs and strays. But as a parent I had to fit in in all sorts of other jobs just for the money.” Now that she has started a career in care, Chris is not looking back.
“I’m doing something I love – and getting paid for it. It’s the perfect job for me.”