A carer whose first day in the job ended up with her unconscious on the floor has picked herself up to be named the winner of her company’s Rising Star award.
Tamara Proctor (pictured) worked in retail before deciding on a career change, and joined Norfolk home care company Extra Hands last May.
Despite her inauspicious start, Extra Hands said Tamara has gone on to become a “key member of the team” and a “trusted friend” to the care service users she visits.
“I still don’t know what happened that first day – I wasn’t unduly anxious, I’d had a good breakfast and I was prepared, but I passed out completely,” the 20-year-old said.
“An ambulance had to be called and they said I’d probably overheated. It was a strange way to start – phoning the careline is supposed to be for the benefit of service users, not the carers, but I like to think I’ve made some progress since then.”
Before the pandemic, Tamara worked in a shoe shop, often dealing with elderly customers, which she said gave her some insight into the requirements of her new career, a choice which was also influenced by personal experience.
“Growing up I was a carer for my mum, and I’d also seen how carers helped her, so when I saw what was happening with the pandemic, it seemed like the best time to get involved,” she said.
Extra Hands, which was set up by David and Hazel Evans almost three decades ago, seems to have been the perfect fit for Tamara.
“I absolutely love this job,” she said. “I’ve had other jobs before where I felt happy, but that was mainly down to the environment of the people around me, but this is the first job I’ve had that I’ve felt genuinely happy to do.”
Tamara’s boss, Lynda Hilliard, said she fully deserved her award. “She’s settled into her role as if she has always been with us, even though she had no care experience before she came to Extra Hands,” she explained.
“Tamara’s service users are very pleased with her and she has made quite an impact on some of her regulars, who have said she is always lovely and cheerful.
“She also called us and gave us extra availability over the Christmas period for additional shifts if we needed her and is always helpful if we call her to help us out.”
The other winner of the Rising Star award was Trevor Wicks, who ran the Hollywood Cinema chain for 30 years, until it went into administration early in 2019.
Like Tamara, he opted for a career change at the start of the coronavirus pandemic by entering the world of caring with Extra Hands.
“When I put on Facebook what I was doing, people were amazed at such a total about-turn, so I’m well chuffed with the award, it came out of nowhere – when I saw work were calling me, I wondered if I’d done something wrong, but no, it was to tell me the good news,” said Trevor.
Having run his own company, Trevor says he can appreciate the job Extra Hands does both from the positions of being a boss and being an employee.
“I chose Extra Hands because I didn’t want to work in a home, I liked the idea of going into people’s houses to get to know them, and it’s a family-run company, so that was something I could relate to, and they’re great people to work for,” he said.
Despite his initial reservations over whether he would be suited to the role, Trevor said he was delighted with his decision to change careers.
“I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but when you go to somebody’s home, you may be the only person they see that day,” he said. “The other day at the end of my shift, I stayed on for about half an hour chatting to the couple because they were such nice people. I look forward to going to people’s houses and doing some good for them – how many jobs can you say that about?”
Trevor’s manager, Hayley Claxton, said he was a deserved winner of the award. “Trevor has gained confidence and has built some great relationships with his service users and their families,” she said.
Trevor recently recommended a friend to join Extra Hands, and said he would definitely advise anyone else who has thought about making the switch to do the same.
“If I had a pound for every time I’d heard someone say ‘that’s great, but I could never do it’, I’d be a very rich man. My friends tell me I’m a lot happier now, doing this job. If I can do it, anyone can.”