Her time working at Pacific Homecare (PHC) has presented a huge learning curve for Support Worker Catherine Aipolo, Employee of the Month for October. But it has also been a hugely rewarding period in her life.
Catherine moved to New Zealand from Pelehake in Tonga in 1997 to begin a new life in a new country and in 2011, she joined the team at Pacific Homecare, after previously working in hospitality.
“I wanted a change, to learn new skills and to meet new people,” Catherine explains.
She became one of over 200 Support Workers at Pacific Homecare, and took on four permanent, as well as several temporary clients, fulfilling her goal, enabling her to meet plenty of new faces.
As a Support Worker, her daily duties include preparing meals, performing household chores and providing personal care for her clients.
Since starting her new career as a Support Worker, the quietly-spoken Catherine has been put through her paces, learning new skills through free training at Pacific Homecare.
“I have completed level two and three Pathways training – where I learnt how to look after people who have epilepsy or have had a stroke, and how to use equipment that people with different disabilities need,” she adds.
Interacting with her clients is both the most rewarding and sometimes challenging part of working in homecare, Catherine says.
“Sometimes when you first meet new clients, they are very quiet and unsure of you. So I have to try and talk and joke with them until they open up to me. It takes a few visits but eventually most of them do.”
She adds that clients’ gratitude is what makes her job feel worthwhile.
“Most of my clients are really grateful for me being there. I like to encourage them to keep doing what they can do as it is good for them to keep moving and active – but I assist with anything they need.”
Developing a good connection with every client is important – and that can happen in a variety of ways.
“One of my clients loves pancakes so I make pancakes for her every day for breakfast – and I chat to her while I’m making them and when she’s eating,” Catherine says affectionately.
“If I’m on the lunch shift, she might ask for pancakes for lunch – and I make them for her – why not, she loves them? She always has them with jam.”
It is clear Catherine is attached with her clients – even the grumpier ones, who she tries to make laugh instead of being cranky, she quips.
The wife and mother of two says the added bonus of working at Pacific Homecare, is that she now feels prepared to look after her own parents when the time comes.
“My parents are still in Tonga, but one day I would like to return to look after them and my other older relatives.
“It has been good to learn how to look after and support older people within such a great team environment here at Pacific Homecare.”