Case Study: Mary's Story

Mary, Care Assistant at Bluebird Care SwindonI danced along to the music on the radio, doing a little jig. Bob, who has Alzheimer’s, was sitting in his chair, watching me, laughing. I feel I can be silly if it amuses him. Laughter is important and making someone smile or feel good makes all the difference. 

I’m 86 and a great grandmother. Most of the people I care for are around the same age as me, and some are younger. But age isn’t a barrier when it comes to being a care assistant, in fact it can be a benefit. I can share some of the same memories with our customers, I’m on the same wavelength, and we can chat away. 

For decades I worked in administration, and it was one of my daughter’s friends who suggested that she thought I’d like to be a care assistant. I’ve been doing the job now for over 20 years and I love it. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

One of my regular visits was to Jim. He used to wait for me to arrive, and I could see he was happy to see me. He liked to go to the churchyard, and we’d sit and have a chat with a flask of tea and ginger biscuits. He enjoyed blackberry picking too and we did that together. I took him to his doctor’s appointments and to get his hair cut. I looked forward to seeing him. 

Doing something for somebody makes me feel useful.  

I went to see Don twice a week. He had dementia and Parkinson’s and his wife Susie couldn’t leave him. My visits gave her a break. She went into town on the bus shopping and she went to her knitting club with her friends. She’d come to the door with me almost in tears. ‘You don’t know how grateful I am to you’ she said. 

I think we are lucky at Bluebird Care. We have good care assistants and they really do care, they go over and above to help.  

Our customers are all different. Deirdre was in her nineties and used to be a ballet dancer. She had it in her mind, from when she was young, that she shouldn’t eat too much, and it was difficult getting her to eat something. I discovered she liked hot cross buns, so I used to get some for her, and she ate them. 

For some, you’re the only person they see that day. If there’s something wrong or something worrying them they have someone they can mention it to.  

Being a care assistant has been a benefit for me too. I feel like I’m going to see my friends. My husband Ronald died 18 months ago; we were married for 51 years. There is no one at home anymore but I have friendships outside the home. 

I think it would be harder living on my own if I didn’t have those friendships. I belong to a church group and one of the ladies there said to me: ‘don’t you think it’s time you gave up?’  I said: ‘no, it’s important for me to carry on working.’ It isn’t about the money, it’s the fact I like doing it. 

It keeps me young. It gets me up the morning and gives me a purpose. 

I’m physically fit. My eyesight is good, my hearing is good. Whilst I’m able I shall keep going. I’m glad to go to work. 

Bluebird Care are very good to me, very supportive. They don’t give me early mornings anymore, they are very considerate. I work between 11 and 15 hours a week over four days. It suits me fine. If you are determined you can do anything, you have to be positive. 

My family are proud of what I’m doing. My daughter is always saying: ‘mum I want to be just like you when I’m older.’  

I care a lot about the people I look after, and I always like to come away feeling that I’ve done everything I can.  At the end of the day, I feel I’ve done something worthwhile. I sleep well knowing I’ve done my best.