CARER Sabrina Boyd might be “excited and delighted” having won Cork Carer of the Year, run by Right at Home Ireland, but the real prize for her is making a massive difference to people’s lives.
“Loneliness for people living alone is something they have to contend with,” says Sabrina, from Greenmount, Cork city, who is mum to Joshua, aged seven, Anne Victoria, aged five, and Aaron, aged one.
“It is difficult. Often, I am the only person my clients meet every day.”
Sabrina, with her sunny disposition, lights up their day.
“I hope so!” adds Sabrina, who has two elderly parents.
“I like to think I cheer people up when I call to them. That makes me happy.”
Sabrina wasn’t content to stay in her job in retail management. Seeking a change in occupation, she went back to college as a mature student to study healthcare.
“My heart just wasn’t in it (retail),” says Sabrina.
“My ambition was to work in health care and do a job that I loved doing. I came to my chosen career late in life!”
Sabrina, 38, loves her job so much that she goes that extra mile for the people she cares for. Now she has been acknowledged by her employers, work colleagues, and her grateful clients for her reliability, commitment, understanding and empathy.
“I never expected to win the award,” adds Sabrina.
“I am thrilled. To have my work recognised in this way is fantastic, although the work itself is so rewarding.
“I love what I do and being able to brighten someone’s day and support them to live an independent life with dignity is reward enough.”
Sabrina, taking the brave decision to change careers, enjoys real job satisfaction.
“I absolutely love my job and being named Cork Carer of the Year by Right at Home was unbelievable!”
“Well, there are so many other wonderful dedicated carers out there working hard day- in, day out,” says Sabrina.
“Even to be nominated for Cork Carer of the Year was a huge honour for me, never mind to win it.”
But she comes from a family of winners. Her mother, Ann, won the same accolade in 2012.
“My mother Ann, who is 78, looked after a lovely lady called Sheila Roycroft,” Sabrina adds.
“She did that for 16 years and it was all voluntary.”
Like Sabrina, Ann always befriended the people she cared for.
“Sheila and my mother were great pals. Sheila was part of our family. Herself and mum had lovely times together, birthdays, family occasions and Christmas. They really enjoyed going to the Over 60s competitions together, loving the night out. They built up a wonderful friendship over the years.”
Ann, with a big heart, always extending the hand of friendship, was nominated for Cork Carer of the Year in 2012 for her voluntary work by the Carers Association, by her family and the community garda.
“Mam was absolutely thrilled,” says Sabrina. “Like me, she never expected to win the award and she was highly honoured. She thought it was unreal!”
Sabrina like her mother, is a real people-person.
“Calling to clients in the mornings and evenings; no day is ever the same,” she says.
“I love chatting to people about bygone days and how times have changed.
“They love reminiscing and I love listening to them. Older people have so much life experience and wisdom; you can learn a lot from them.”
Sabrina brings glad tidings with her.
“Sometimes I am the only contact they have from one end of the week to the other. I bring them the news and we enjoy a chat.”
One thing leads to another.
“We often end up singing!”
Sabrina and her partner, William, with a young family, have a lively household too.
“It is full on, now back to school, shopping and cooking every day, our days are pretty busy.”
But they are all in it together.
“We certainly are,” says Sabrina.
“During Covid-19 I had to isolate from my family because of my work situation, there was a risk I could bring the virus home to the house. I had to leave my clothes at the door and take a shower before going into the kitchen. I was the only person leaving the house at one stage and I had to work and shop as well.”
That’s not all Sabrina had to do.
“My parents are both elderly and I’m the nearest sibling living closest to them. I made their meals and left them at the door for Mam and Dad.”
Old age with its realities brings its own challenges.
“Mam has arthritis and she pulled a ligament in a muscle. Dad has gout and cataracts,” says Sabrina.
“I try and help them out as best I can. I have two brothers and two sisters. They are scattered across the water, in Cork city and in Cobh.”
How many people does Sabrina call to every day?
“It used to be six people,” says Sabrina. “Sadly, three of my elderly clients are deceased.”
Loneliness and old age are hard stations for people.
“It can be hard, especially when people feel isolated,” says Sabrina.
“I never want anyone to feel alone and I always tell them I’m at the end of the phone and never hesitate to call me. I am always there for them.”
Sabrina, who loves her job, takes huge pride in it.
“Particularly over the last number of months when some of the most vulnerable people have been so limited in things as basic as leaving the house or having visitors,” says Sabrina.
“The human interaction is one of the most important elements that a carer does.”
The Cork Carer of the Year, Sabrina Boyd, with her own brand of human contact, makes everyone she meets feel important and special.
Managing Director of Right at Home, Cork, Cian O’Sullivan says that her award is well deserved.
“I am delighted for Sabrina getting recognition for the wonderful work that she does as part of the Right at Home Team,” says Cian.
“This year has been particularly challenging for people, taking extra precautions and wearing PPE equipment.
“Sabrina was always up to the challenge and go out to clients in wind, rain and snow. I’m always amazed at her willingness and her efforts getting to know clients. Sabrina really shone out this year,” say Cian.
“She is never fazed and she has the skills, kindness and compassion to make sure that those she provides care to feel safe, comfortable and valued.
“Sabrina was chosen as Cork Carer of the Year because of her cheerful attitude, reliability and integrity; traits that she brings to every interaction with her clients.”
As the winner of Cork Carer of the Year, Sabrina will now go forward to the national awards, this month, where an overall winner will be chosen as Right at Home National Carer of the Year.