Cork Carer of the Year: Sometimes I am the only person a client will see all day

When someone suggested to Sarah Corcoran last year to become a carer, little did she know what lay ahead, writes CHRIS DUNNE
Cork Carer of the Year: Sometimes I am the only person a client will see all day

Sarah Corcoran from Cork City has been announced as the Cork finalist in Right at Home’s Carer of the Year Awards. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

CARING for people is in Sarah Corcoran’s genes - and she has just won a prestigious award for it.

“I help care for my grandad with my mum and my aunt. Grandad was thrilled when I was announced as regional winner and finalist in Right at Home’s Carer of the Year awards,” says Sarah, who is mum to Aaron, aged eight, and Dylan, aged two.

“When grandad saw me in the paper, he said I should go and get the photograph and frame it!”

The Carer of the Year Awards recognise and acknowledge the work and commitment of care staff who play an instrumental role in their communities, enabling individuals to continue to live independent lives in the comfort of their own homes.

Sarah might be “delighted and excited” to win the award but the real prize for her is making a massive difference to people’s lives.

“Sometimes, I am the only person a client will see all day, it breaks up their day and it makes a real difference to them,” says Sarah.

“I am fond of my clients and we forge friendships, we build trust, I get to know them as a friend, not just as a client.”

Sarah says caring for people in their own homes is not like work.

“I shouldn’t say that!” says Sarah laughing, who brings all her caring skills to work.

“I feel very grateful to do something I love and although there can be challenges, it’s such a rewarding role.

“I work with a fantastic team here in Cork and we do our work because we are passionate about helping people. We meet some amazing individuals and it is a pleasure to be able to help and support them as they continue to live in their own homes.”

Like many of us, Sarah was at a loss during the pandemic.

“I was out of work,” says Sarah, who lives in Togher.

“A number of my friends work in the caring profession and one of them suggested that I should apply for a job to Right at Home. That was in October, 2020, and we were in the thick of the pandemic.

“I thought, why not apply for the job, I am well able and well suited.

“I thought, if I can run the home, look after my family and look after grandad, I was half-way there!”

Sarah Corcoran from Cork City has been announced as the Cork finalist in Right at Home’s Carer of the Year Awards which will take place this autumn. Sarah is pictured with Cian O’Sullivan, Managing Director of Right at Home Cork. Picture: Gerard McCarthy
Sarah Corcoran from Cork City has been announced as the Cork finalist in Right at Home’s Carer of the Year Awards which will take place this autumn. Sarah is pictured with Cian O’Sullivan, Managing Director of Right at Home Cork. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

She went all the way there.

“I popped in my CV,” says Sarah, and the management gave me a buzz to talk about the role. We had a couple of chats over the phone because of restrictions as we couldn’t meet face-to-face. Four days after applying, I was offered the job.”

Sarah gets on with everybody.

“I found Managing Director of Right at Home, Cian O’Sullivan to be very approachable and very easy-going and he is very easy to talk to,” says Sarah.

“For the first few days when I started work I shadowed another supervisor and I made mental notes on what I had to do.”

Then Sarah was ready to go out into the community and make a difference to people’s lives who need assistance and support in their own homes.

“When I met Mary, who lives with her siblings, we clicked straight away,” says Sarah.

“We enjoyed each other’s company and the chat together. I saw to Mary’s daily needs and she got used to me popping in. She enjoys my company and she looks forward to me coming in to the house; I’m her friend; she’s my buddy. Mary is a gas character.”

Mary thought Sarah deserved acknowledgment for the wonderful job she does every day, brightening up people’s lives and helping them.

“It was Mary and her sister Jackie who nominated me for the award,” says Sarah.

“I never expected it.”

Sarah, with her sunny disposition, lights up people’s days.

“Having a chat and having contact with another person is important for people who live on their own with no family nearby, or with no family at all,” says Sarah.

“When I arrive, it breaks up their day. I call regularly to three other clients, three gentlemen, Lewis, Frank, and Jimmy. I get on well with all of them,” says Sarah.

“I prepare their meals, do a bit of shopping for them and sort out the washing, as well as other household bits and pieces. I do like it, it is very sociable and it doesn’t feel like work.”

Sarah chats to her clients and she listens to them.

“It’s a good thing for them to see another face, they can have a rant or vent their feelings. I can often be a sounding board!”

Now Sarah has been acknowledged by her employers, her work colleagues and her grateful clients for her reliability, commitment, understanding and empathy.

“I didn’t even realise that I was put forward for the award,” says Sarah.

“I never expected to win!”

How did she find out that she was nominated for the accolade?

“Cian said he had a spot of news for me,” says Sarah.

“Mary and her sister had put me forward. Then a friend told me I was on Monday’s paper on September 20, I said no I’m not! I woke up to texts and phone calls telling me the news.”

What did her partner, Bryan, say?

“He said I should be proud,” says Sarah.

She is a breath of fresh air for her clients.

“I breeze in and I get the bits and pieces done,” says Sarah.

“It is great people can continue to live in their own homes with some help and support available to them.

“Often, leaving one’s own home and going into a nursing home can be soul-destroying for people. My grandad says ‘I won’t be leaving this house!’”

He is a caring person too.

“He cut out the piece in the paper about me winning the Cork Carer of the Year,” says Sarah.

“He made sure everybody saw it!”

What does she like to do in her spare time?

Sarah laughs.

“Does any mother have spare time with a house to run and a job to go to?”

A year on, is Sarah glad she applied for the job at Right at Home?

“A year later, I look back and I remember I was nervous at first, now the job feels like a duck to water,” says Sarah.

“I wouldn’t do anything different.”

What did her friend Mary think of Sarah’s wonderful achievement?

“I called into her and the first thing she said, was ‘I saw you on the paper’! She was very happy for me.”

Everyone is happy for Sarah.

“Sarah is a natural carer,” says Cian O’Sullivan, Managing Director of Right at Home, speaking about Sarah’s award as Regional winner of Carer of the Year.

“And the relationships she builds with her clients is remarkable. 

“For Sarah, it’s more than just a job, it’s a friendship, and Sarah’s kindness shines brightly in everything she does.

“We wish Sarah the very best of luck at the national final in November.”

The national winner of Right at Home’s ‘Carer of the Year’ will be announced at an awards ceremony in Dublin this November.

Right at Home has six offices across Ireland, in Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare, Cork, Roscommon and Galway. See www.rightathome.ie

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