Sharing sunshine smiles

Lesa Morrison is the ‘Queen of Smiles’ for the residents of a nursing home in Belfast. She cannot finish her work shift without a wave and smile from each person that she looks after in her new role as a care worker.

“I just love my work; it’s as if I now belong to a very caring, extended family,” said 35 year old Lesa, who was helped in her search for employment after being referred to the Work and Wellbeing programme in Northern Ireland which is delivered by Ingeus.

Lesa has two young boys and decided not to return to work after the birth of her second son. She was diagnosed with post-natal depression and became increasingly anxious about resuming her previous position as an operator in a call centre.

STRESS MANAGEMENT

After being unemployed for more than three years, Lesa began receiving help and support from the Work and Wellbeing programme in November 2019. She started her engagement with the programme by attending a mental health workshop, which enabled Lesa to develop ways to better manage her stress levels.

The Work and Wellbeing programme runs across Belfast, Lisburn, Bangor and Newtownards. It is financed by the Department for Communities’ Steps 2 Success programme and offers one-to-one employability support to long term unemployed jobseekers and people with health conditions.

“My employment advisor, Paul Geddis, was just great,” added Lesa. “I agreed to take part in the Ingeus Care Academy as I wanted to work in a nursing home. At the end of the four day course, the participants were introduced to local employers and I was offered an interview for a night time care worker. Paul helped me to prepare and suggested possible questions that I would be asked during the interview. This practise session really helped my confidence and I was offered a position at the Ambassador Nursing Home. Ingeus listened and provided the opportunity for me to find the work that I really wanted to do.”

GAINING NEW INISIGHTS

Lesa is currently completing a Level 2 NVQ in Adult Health and Social Care and is also planning to study for Level 3 in October.

“I really want to develop my career in this sector,” commented Lesa. “I currently work two nights a week and in the mornings I get my ladies and gentlemen washed, dressed and ready for breakfast. I love listening to their stories about their childhoods and how things were so different back then. I don’t like to leave my residents until they have all given me a wave and a smile to show that they are happy with what I have done for them.

“The extra money from working has been very useful, particularly when buying school uniforms for the start of the new term. I have been able to open my first savings account, which is something I have never done before. My new work has really boosted my confidence and self-esteem and I can see myself progressing further in the adult health and social care sector.”

VALUED MEMBER OF STAFF

Director Emer Bevan with Amstecos, Lesa’s employer, said: “Lesa has adapted quickly to this role and has become an integral part of the team. Lesa's willingness to learn has meant that she has taken on duties of day shift and night shift which have very much helped with continuity in the Home. Lesa is very pleasant in her nature and has a positive approach to her work, which the residents in the Home greatly appreciate. She has quickly become a valued member of our care team. Her time and attendance are without question and I do hope that Lesa will continue with this professional approach to her work."