Pacific Homecare Support Worker Sarah Andrew is a reluctant Employee of the Month recipient. Working at Pacific Homecare for more than 20 years, Sarah shares her love for the community and caring for the elderly saying she is “blessed to help others”.
Sarah was born and raised by her grandparents in the Cook Islands (Ngatangiia, Aitutaki) before arriving to New Zealand in 1971 via the Mariposa dancing boats, “May 13 to be exact,” she beams.
Prior to working at Pacific Homecare, Sarah worked at Cambridge Clothing in New Lynn, the local Seventh Day Adventist Church and David Lange’s Rest Home in Mangere.
She has always shown a love and passion for caring for others, but it was when her sister fell ill and had a bypass operation that she was recognised for the care and support she was providing.
Hoping to find her sister homecare help, Pacific Homecare co-founder Piripo Elisaia, commonly known as Mama Pi, insisted Sarah be given the job.
Sarah’s husband, however, did not want her to work. But with a little persuasion from Mama Pi, he relented. Sarah began work at Pacific Homecare and has not looked back since. She enjoys morning shifts best.
“I love the mornings because we worship together, we have breakfast together and we chat together,” says the mother of nine children (seven of her own and two whangai (adopted)).
Among her most memorable moments at Pacific Homecare were those spent with her very first clients. She grew attached to them and mourned when they both passed away. It’s among the many challenges she faces that are all part of the job.
“The hardest experience for me was seeing a son of one of my clients having to look after his mum. For Pacific Island women, it is hard for you to depend on your son. It’s a burden knowing your son needs to care for you,” she remembers.
“I helped ease that burden and I remember he said I was ‘an angel sent to help look after his mum’.”
Sarah remains passionate about the work she does and the love and support she provides.
“Caring for the elderly is important to me. As a Pacific Islander I know they are too shy to stay in rest homes, they feel safer at home around family and to them it means they haven’t been forgotten,” she says.
Her dedication and commitment to her clients has even seen her being asked to organise their funerals.
“My husband is a funeral director, so we help where we can, I’ve always been included in decisions as if I am family – we are family.”
It is evident that Love, Care and Professionalism are embedded into Sarah’s work ethic, aligning closely to Pacific Homecare’s values.
Sarah looks forward to Friday’s Fia Ola Group, when she gets together with Cook Island residents for worship and meals, casual classes of Zumba and a sing-a-long with the guitar and ukulele.
She enjoys being regarded as ‘the Mother of Pacific Homecare’.
“I never applied for the job,” she quips.
“It was given to me and so they can’t take it off me … I’m here to stay.”