My rewarding 47 years with NHS, by Tyrone carer hailed on health service anniversary
The longest serving female member of the Northern Trust has reflected on her career as "very rewarding" after being recognised for her service on the 70th anniversary of the NHS.
Co Tyrone carer Ruth Patterson has dedicated 47 years of her life to the health trust and said it haD been a privilege to work for so long in a job she loved.
Ruth currently works at Ellis Court Respite Home in Carrickfergus, where she has looked after adults with learning difficulties for the majority of her career, and now specialises in independent living care.
Beginning her career in the care sector when she was only 18, her passion for helping people, young and old, has continued from the day she applied for her first job at Knockfergus Children's Home in Carrickfergus.
She had previously worked in a nursery where she laid down the foundations for her long career.
"I saw the job in the paper and applied to the Children's Home and Baby Unit," she explained.
"I was nervous at first because I was learning new things and was very young. I had to stay in Carrickfergus and maybe only got home on my days off because I had to be on-call. I enjoyed the work, it was very rewarding."
Almost half-a-century on from her first day in the trust, Ruth said she has seen changes for the good, specifically in the sector she works in.
"Independent living has made things better," she said.
"People are doing things a lot more for themselves and that's better. Before that, we did everything. I'd now be supervising and guiding the clients, but whatever they can do we'll work with them."
And it's not a 9 to 5 job for Ruth as she prepared to start a shift that would take her through to 6am.
"I find every day a challenge. Every day is a different day, which is brilliant. You're not going into a boring job because I'm very busy doing different things with the clients, and going different places."
The keen gardener is married to Ronald, and the couple will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary later this month. For now Ruth said she's going to take each day as it comes but feels she isn't finished just yet.
The Northern Trust said: "It seems particularly fitting at this time of birthday celebration for the NHS and the HSC in Northern Ireland that we publicly thank Ruth, and indeed all of our staff, for the work that they do on a daily basis for all those who need our help."