The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)
Alicia Tereskiewiczova tells P&J Recruitment about the skills she uses to help care for elderly care home residents
When I trained as a beauty therapist in Slovakia, I never imagined myself moving to the north-east of Scotland and offering a very special and unique service for residents of a care home for the elderly.
In 2009, I came to Scotland for a six-week holiday to visit my best friend. Three weeks in, I met my boyfriend, fell in love and we decided to make Scotland our home. My friend was working at Rubislaw Park Nursing Home in Aberdeen and I was fortunate to get work there, initially in the kitchen and then adding extra hours as a cleaner. When people started to discover my background, and encouraged by my boss at the time, I started voluntarily staying on after shifts to paint people’s nails or do hand massage and instantly loved it. Then, when the facility was bought and refurbished by its current owners in 2015, I was delighted to be taken on as a full-time beauty therapist – with my very own treatment room within the home.
It was very new for some of the residents, and we thought that some might take a while to get used to the cleaner doing their nails, but it was an instant hit and now I’m very busy all day, every day – I think some residents would come to get their nails done every day if I had the time. Doing nails and massages are the most popular therapies, and I’ve recently started doing facials for some people. These use gentle, natural products, such as coconut oil, which won’t damage fragile or sensitive older skin.
It’s vital that I can be flexible in my diary – sometimes a resident who has dementia may have planned to have their nails done but, when I get there, the time is not right for them. If that’s the case, I will try later or the following day and catch up with someone else in the meantime. I also need to be flexible in where I work, so if someone does not want to or feel able to come to my treatment room, I will spend time with them in a lounge or in their own room, depending on where they will be most comfortable and relaxed.
At any age, a beauty treatment can give you a boost, as it’s always nice to feel pampered, but I think there is a lot more to it for my clients. As well as the treatment itself, the one-to-one time that comes with an appointment is very important, especially for residents who may not have family living nearby. Offering a listening ear, time and companionship is often as therapeutic as the beauty treatment itself. If someone spends all day sitting on their own in a room feeling that the world is passing them by, that is not good for resident’s wellbeing, so having someone spend time with them can have hugely positive effects.
I often try to take the service a step further by taking a resident outside for a walk after they’ve had their nails done, or spending time enjoying books in the library after a facial. The temptation of a little pamper session can often encourage people to spend time away from their room, which is always good – it all adds to the whole experience for the resident and makes their living environment as special as possible.
Although I may never have predicted working with older people, I love it and am humbled by how much my work means to residents. I get my greatest satisfaction from seeing residents happy – and the fact that no one has said “no” to a treatment yet.