| 19.6°C Belfast


'Every time I go into a house, I put my family in danger'

Care Worker


Close

'I am a community care worker in the north-west. Although I love my job, every day when I put on my uniform in the morning, I am scared out of my wits because I think, 'Is this going to be the day I get coronavirus?''

'I am a community care worker in the north-west. Although I love my job, every day when I put on my uniform in the morning, I am scared out of my wits because I think, 'Is this going to be the day I get coronavirus?''

'I am a community care worker in the north-west. Although I love my job, every day when I put on my uniform in the morning, I am scared out of my wits because I think, 'Is this going to be the day I get coronavirus?''

I am a community care worker in the north-west. Although I love my job, every day when I put on my uniform in the morning, I am scared out of my wits because I think, 'Is this going to be the day I get coronavirus?'

As a community care worker, I feel I am at an even greater risk than if I worked in a care home because at least in a care home you are in one place.

Every week I go into around 35 different houses and someone with coronavirus could be in any one of them. As community care workers, we are being asked to take big risks for little money. That makes me so angry.

The company that I work for provides me with clear vinyl gloves, which tear easily, and one bottle of hand sanitiser that I have been told must last me six weeks.

I go into 35 houses over the course of a week, but some of the girls I work with do that every day, so there is no way we have enough hand sanitiser.

We had to have a whole argument to get aprons. They didn't want to give us aprons, but now we have some - although not enough that you could change it every time you go into a different house.

We have been told not to wear aprons going into a client's house but to take them in in a plastic bag, but that's cross-contamination.

In fact, I was told not to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) unless the person I am looking after has a bad cough.

The vast majority of the people I look after are chronically ill, so many of them have coughs, but the company I work for thinks that it is okay to expose me to this level of danger.

We are being treated like we are nothing. I feel so angry, not because of the work I do - I love my job - but nothing matters to the company, only making money.

If it wasn't for the local community, I don't know what I and other care workers would do.

It is only because of the Strabane Together Against Covid-19 group that we are better protected than we were.

Thanks to Paul Gallagher, who helped set this group up, I have proper blue gloves, masks, aprons and hand sanitiser. This group provides all this PPE to care homes, care workers and has even provided face shields to nurses.

Without the group, I would be in a far more dangerous position than I am now.

Every time I go into a house, I know I am putting myself at risk and I am putting my family at risk. I am also putting everyone in the house I go into at risk as well because I have no idea if the people in the previous house have coronavirus.

Every night when I come home, I strip off my uniform, boil wash it, shower and keep away from the rest of my family.

I am even sleeping in a different bedroom to my husband now - something that I've not done in 32 years of marriage.

As told to Donna Deeney. The care worker who spoke for this article requested anonymity

Belfast Telegraph