I was among the audience last night at the UK premier of Sharon Cuneta’s latest film “Caregiver” in London’s Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square.
Sharon Cuneta appeared on stage to talk about her role as a caregiver in London. She chatted and joked with the packed audience, many of whom had queued for hours in the rain to catch a glimpse of Filipino superstar.
Her stunning performance was both realistic and moving, and as the ‘tear jerking’ story unfolded there was hardly a “dry eye in the house”.
The film should be compulsory viewing for anyone thinking of coming to the UK to work as a carer.
As part of ABS movie event, Immigration Matters talked to Tess Lindog, a real life carer who made it to London, stopping off on the way for 15 years in the Middle East.
Tess, originally from Camarines Norte, recently arrived in the England to further her studies and work as a carer in the type of Carer Home you will see in the Sharon Cuneta yarn.
Before landing at London’s Heathrow Airport last year on a cold December morning, Tess, who speaks four languages including Hebrew and Arabic, had already spent seven years working as a personal carer in Jerusalem, Israel and 8 years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in a large hotel.
Recalling her time in Israel, the diminutive Filipina said that the work was hard, with long hours and six day weeks, but also satisfying especially when she became close to her client.
Overseas workers in Israel and other Middle Eastern countries do not gain permanent status and eventually have to leave and return home to their own country.
Although Tess has worked in the industry, she wanted to continue her professional development through more formal studies in the form of an NVQ in Health and Social Care at Majestic College in London.
She chose the UK as she was aware of the high standards of care and because, as she put it, “British qualifications are recognised around the world”.
NVQ’s, or National Vocational Qualifications, are a work related qualifications taken by over 1 million students each year in subjects ranging from Customer Care to Hairdressing.
An NVQ, like an apprenticeship, is only awarded in work related subjects and much of the learning takes place on the job in the work place.
Students are paid for their work experience and have the same employment rights under the law as any other employee.
Tess went through Immigration Advisers Bison UK to arrange her visa and find a suitable work placement. Within a few weeks of arriving she had taken her induction modules was soon working in a residential care home for the elderly in Worthing, Sussex, a small town on the South Coast of England around 70 miles from London.
The working environment was very different in a Care Home compared to looking after a person in their own home. It took a while for Tess to get used to new ways of working and the strict care standards followed by Care Homes in the UK. Nursing and Residential Care establishments can be inspected at any time by the CSCI, government agency which regulates the sector.
One thing that was very different was that after her 8 hour shift, Tess could put on her coat and go home! She is not ‘on call’ 24 hours a day, six days a week, which is the situation for most live-in carers, and now has a life of her own outside of work.
Tess is enjoying her NVQ studies and the work placement. The college has many other Filipino students, as does the Care Home, which has come to rely on Pinoy workers and other overseas staff.
The NVQ Level III and IV combination course is very demanding, especially as she is also working a full week at the same time as doing her assignments and attending college.
“The work is very hard but, unlike in Israel, I am not alone and I always have a member of the team or my Manager to help”. She said.
Healthcare could not be further from her first career choice, having obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Engineering. But like thousands of others she had to adapt and find work where it was available. Fortunately she chose the booming care industry, which offers job opportunities for qualified people all over the world.
Tess had previously visited her Brother the UK, in July 2007, and decided that she would like to study here to gain more knowledge and experience. By upgrading her skills and gaining an NVQ IV Registered Management Award (RMA), Tess hopes to pursue a career in care management.
She is pleased with her decision and feels the work experience and course will be of “great benefit” to her, as an RMA qualification can lead to a management job and a work permit or offer job prospects in other places such as Canada.
Tess has been featured in a TFC report for ABSCBN and has appeared on the television reports all over the world. You can see her video testimonial by visiting: