CAREGiver, children’s author and knitting pro – all in a day’s work · Home Instead Recruitment
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Name: Celia Jenkins

Job Title: CAREGiver

Children's author and creative maestro Celia Jenkins loves her role caring for older people. The 29-year-old CAREGiver from Corsham, near Bath, says the role slots perfectly into her busy life which includes writing travel books and stories for children, as well as poetry. Celia’s skills also span into knitting – something which goes down particularly well with the elderly clients she cares for – and she has published a collection of knitting patterns for beginners.

“I joined Home Instead as a CAREGiver in early 2018 and it’s the first care job I’ve done,” she said. “I have always enjoyed spending time with older people, going to the local Methodist church in Guernsey where I grew up.”

Celia is no stranger to helping others, having spent five years living abroad in China and Japan, working as an English teacher. Here she spent time teaching people of all ages and abilities, specialising in younger children.

A creative chapter…

Over the last ten years, Celia has had a busy career writing and has won a number of accolades – from being nominated for the pilot scheme of leading literary award, the Young Man Booker Prize to having work published through Bath Literature Festival.

In 2017, Celia published her first collection of knitting patterns for beginners, and the first book in a series of bilingual children’s picture books called Ben and Maki. She also writes travel guides, educational materials, ghostwrites original fiction and writes articles on a variety of topics.

Working part-time as a CAREGiver has allowed Celia to continue to work on her writing and throughout 2018 she had a number of short stories published and articles published in magazines. “I'm always dabbling in some sort of fiction or poetry, particularly writing for children,” she said. “The flexible hours of Home Instead makes it perfect to be able to do this.”

Making a difference to the lives of others

The Bath Spa University graduate loves putting her people skills and creativity to use in her caring role.

“What I love about being a CAREGiver is the opportunity to go that extra mile and really make a difference to my client’s lives,” she said. “While the visit may be for the purpose of doing some laundry or helping a client take a shower, there are always little things you can do to make each visit special and to let the client know you’ve been thinking about them, even when you’re not with them.”

One of Celia’s clients Doreen used to be a keen baker but now that she’s living alone, she finds it difficult to complete the tasks that used to bring her so much joy. “As a keen baker myself, we would often talk about things we would like to bake and chat about our favourite recipes,” Celia said. “I used to be a chef myself, and I particularly like trying out new cake recipes.

“It was one of my CAREGiving highlights when I walked into the care visit with Doreen one day and she said ‘I did it! I’ve baked a cake with the recipe you gave me.’ I think it was these conversations with Doreen which inspired her to start baking again. I’d also baked a cake from a recipe she had previously given to me - a strawberry cake - so that was a really lovely moment.”

One of Celia’s clients is a lady who is living with dementia and is a keen singer and dancer. During the visits, Celia noticed she was humming a favourite song of hers and could only really remember the first few words of it. In her free time, Celia researched what the song was and learnt it so that she could remind her of the words when she needed.

Helping prevent loneliness

As people get older, their social circles can reduce sometimes quite dramatically. People that they loved and spent time with might have passed away, moved to a different location or as people get older they may have restricted mobility which can make it much harder for them to get out and visit people they want to see.

Celia added: “It’s always nice to receive phone calls and letters from people you know but you can’t beat a bit of good old-fashioned face to face interaction. As a CAREGiver, it’s really nice to walk into a care visit for someone who you know is experiencing loneliness and see how their face lights up when they see another person there with them in their home.

“I understand what it’s like to be lonely - living in China and Japan, where I couldn’t speak the language very well, was an isolating experience. Also, different cultures can be hard to make friends in - Japanese people keep to themselves, and I was, at times, very lonely when I lived there.”

Celia said. “Knowing what it’s like to feel alone makes me want to try and prevent others from having this experience. Many older people experience loneliness, but I know that my visits to them can brighten their day and be something they’ll look forward to. Clients aren’t always willing to admit that they need company, but the benefit is evident from how much they enjoy our time together.”

Always a new story to hear

She said: “No two days CAREGiving are ever the same, it’s not the sort of job where you’ll be stuck in an office doing the same old thing day in day out. Each of our clients are individuals with individual needs. While they might have the same tasks for you to complete in the visit, no two calls will be the same.

“Some of my clients require visits on a daily basis whereas others just need somebody to pop in once or twice a week. Each time you go to visit a client, they’ve always got some new stories to tell you or news to share. I just love finding out about their lives and sharing my experiences with them too.”