As Christmas approaches, mum-of-one Suraya Alvi is busy preparing for the big family celebration that happens each year. But the family gifts and festive dinner will only be enjoyed once Suraya has visited four special people, like 90-year-old Helen.
Suraya, aged 40, is one of more than 8,000 CAREGivers who will be helping the older generation to prepare for, and celebrate, Christmas this year.
Working on Christmas Day isn’t often something that people want to do, but for CAREGivers like Suraya, it’s part of their job to make the day ‘magical’ for clients.
Suraya says: “Christmas is full of excitement and that doesn’t matter whether you’re spending the day with your family or with clients, the feelings are exactly the same.”
Suraya has worked as a CAREGiver with Home Instead since July 2016. Home Instead supports older people to continue living independently in the comfort and familiarity of their own home for as long as possible, providing companionship-led homecare.
As the festive season gets into full swing, Suraya is helping her clients to prepare for this special time of year. She explains: “As soon as you’re into December, you really see the excitement building. I’ll chat to each client about what their plans are and find out what their feelings are towards celebrating; that’s really important.
“For some, they’ll be spending part of the day with family and we’ll have looked at ideas for what presents they can buy. If they have grandchildren or great-grandchildren, that’s a really lovely part of the job. I help them to look online or in the Argos catalogue to see what toys they can buy and they find it really exciting getting and wrapping the presents, which we’ll often do together.
“For those clients staying at home, I put in extra effort to bring Christmas to them. I’ll always have tinsel and Santa hats with me, especially for those who’ve not decorated their homes. I’ll also take a cracker with me, so that everyone gets to enjoy the traditions of Christmas dinner.”
But Christmas can be a lonely time for some older people and Suraya does everything she can to help clients feel involved in the celebrations taking place up and down the country.
She says: “I do as much as I can with clients, we might make mince pies, buy Christmas jumpers or sing Christmas songs. I also carry the Home Alone DVD around with me for the whole of December – it’s a great film to lift people’s spirits.
“For some clients, Christmas is just another day and that’s fine too. But I’ll always have something festive in the car, just in case!”