We interviewed Shupikia ‘Chris’ Chikwavira (pictured right) together with Victoria Ashfield (left), Lead Administrator at Together in Care Forensic on his second place in our Star Carer of the Year Award. Together in Care Forensic are a CareLineLive customer and provide domiciliary care services.
Victoria – can you tell us why you nominated Chris for the award of CareLineLive’s Star Carer of the Year?
Chris has been with us a year and a half. From the get go he was amazing. He is so caring and gets amazing feedback. He advocates for people when something is not right and works hard to ensure they have a better living environment and can stay at home as long as possible.
Chris – what was your reaction when you were told that you had been nominated and had come 2nd in CareLineLive’s Star Carer of the Year award?
It came as a surprise – I was very flattered. I’m surprised and so happy.
What made you consider being a carer?
Before I joined Together in Care I was doing care work in Zimbabwe. I came over through the Certificate of Sponsorship Programme which gave me the opportunity to come overseas and see how different cultures work and get along with different situations.
Victoria – how have you found the Certificate of Sponsorship Programme?
I’m a level 1 user now so am involved in all our sponsorships – it’s been really successful and we’ve recruited around 70 people through that route. We’ve had about a 95% retention rate with only a couple moving on and those were a geographic move to be nearer their families. Turnover was high with local staff. We are proud of being involved in the programme and supporting people to come over and have a good career in care.
Chris helps train a lot of the sponsored staff and gives people the confidence to work independently. It means that clients get good consistent carers.
Chris – what does being a carer mean to you?
It means a lot. I love to make people happy. Most of our clients are elderly or have ailments that need support. I give them confidence – they can live longer and feel better emotionally even if their condition is a long term one.
I have a passion for taking care of people. I love being with people and love to help people if they can’t take care of themselves.
It’s a challenging job and you need to have the heart for it.
What are the challenges you face in your job?
There are some challenges. The first time you are meeting the client can be tricky but as time goes on you tend to get along and try to deliver what people want. Some clients are easy to work with, some less so. But for me as a senior carer it is my duty to coach my colleagues to help make the job easy.
You have become a champion for home environments, working to improve the living conditions. Can you tell me what inspired this?
Most of the clients we support, some live alone and some are very elderly and can’t take care of their personal hygiene – this is where we come in as a carer – that person really needs to be taken care of. If the home is dilapidated that home has to change to ensure that the environment is suitable.
I can do some of that myself like laundry and dishes, and other times the organisation can help such as repairs.
Victoria – how does Together in Care help when the home environment needs changes?
Each situation is different but we can ask the council, social worker or, if appropriate, the client or their family for an additional call to make the environment safer or perhaps to get a cleaning agency involved or repair person.
We do have to manage expectations on how quickly we can get things resolved and how we can involve external agencies. Making improvements to the home environment can be life changing – even getting clutter removed to provide a safer place – this all helps the client feel better about themselves. We’ve had people who were really declining but when the environment was improved their mood changed and they were more accepting of the support plan and what we were trying to do.
Chris is the person we always ask to help us with this – he really does help make a difference to clients lives.
Chris – what do you like to do in your spare time away for work?
This job can be so hectic and you get tired. So most of the time I watch TV and sleep. But I also love going to the gym and car mechanics.
How do you find using CareLineLive?
We’ve used CareLineLive for about a year. We have a challenge at the moment with the log in on location but Sarah on the customer support team is helping us try to figure out what the issue is. It’s a very good app and easy to follow. Overseas recruits find it very easy to use. Recently I had a new carer I was training and when we were doing the last call of the day I asked her to do the notes and she was perfect at updating it – all in a single day.