Who’s who: Award-winning Islington carer on zero-hour contract calls for sector-wide pay rise

Dignity in Care Award winner Sarah Nakato flanked by Islington Mayor Cllr Rakhia Ismail and Islingto

Dignity in Care Award winner Sarah Nakato flanked by Islington Mayor Cllr Rakhia Ismail and Islington's health and social care chief Cllr Janet Burgess. Picture: Islington Council - Credit: Archant

An award-winning carer says she’s struggling to get by on her zero-hour contact and the government should give everyone in her sector a pay rise.

Sarah Nakato, 40, who's worked for Mayfair Homecare for the past 11 years, scooped the inaugural George Durack lifetime achievement award and was highly commended in the carer of the year category at Islington's Dignity in Care Awards ceremony on July 8.

Sarah said she loves looking after people, who become like "family" - and the best part of her job is making a difference by "helping people get up on their feet and become independent again".

Reflecting on her award, Sarah, who is currently caring for six people in Islington regularly, told the Gazette: "When they called my name I was so shocked - it's good to be appreciated and recognised for the job you do.

"This is my passion. I like to look after people and help them change their lives, so it's good carers are being recognised for the work we do in the community."

But Sarah believes carers are underpaid for the vital work they do and deserve a rise.

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"The government should pay all people in the social services sector more money," she added."When [her clients] go to hospital with an illness they come back with more illnesses, like bedsores. They can't do the things they used to do and you have to start from scratch.

"People come back in worse condition and some people say they haven't been washed and have to beg nurses to get [them] water, so when they come back they are different."

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When Sarah was a child growing up in Kampala, capital city of her native Uganda, she aspired to be like her aunty, who was a nurse in a main government hospital and also ran a clinic at her home. Sarah would stay with her during holidays, where she was taught about medicine - but never actually administered any.

She said her role can be challenging when working with certain clients, such as dementia patients, who she claims can be prone to violent struggle when confused about what's going on.

During one such occasion she even had "a cup thrown" at her. Asked what advise she'd give prospective carers, Sarah said: "They must have passion and they should do it for society, not getting money."

The George Durack award is named after the former Islington councillor, campaigner and Islington Pensioners Forum chair, who died last year, aged 94.

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