Judges recognised Tracey Hamilton as an “exceptional person” who has “made a real difference” and stood out for her “unrelenting selflessness, love and dedication to the care community”
A care worker who survived Covid has been honoured for helping to look after a fellow patient
Tracy Hamilton was on a ventilator at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead last Christmas, but it didn’t stop her “going into work mode” and ensuring she was in the bed next to a vulnerable person she looked after.
She has now been honoured with the Sara Berrio Care Champion prize at the National Care Awards for her selfless caring actions.
Judges recognised the 56-year-old as an “exceptional person” who has “made a real difference” and stood out for her “unrelenting selflessness, love and dedication to the care community”.
She has now made a full recovery, but sadly the person she looked after did not.
Care Awards WS)
Tracy explained what had been going through her mind when she was ill and spotted a familiar face.
“I just went into work mode. I was scared when I got to hospital but when I knew he was there, that focused my mind,” she told the ChroncleLive.
“I knew I could keep him calm and he trusted me. I’ve supported a lot of people at the end of their lives, and a familiar face goes a long way to help people relax and let their body rest.
“It was a comfort for both of us I think, it gave me purpose.
“I couldn’t just lie there knowing he was nearby and the nurses helped me to be there for him as much as I could. It also helped them to do their jobs, they were so busy.”
Tracy works for charity Community Integrated Care in Newcastle where she helps support vulnerable people with complex needs, and has worked in the sector for two decades.
She said that the feeling of being seriously ill with Covid had been “bizarre”.
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Paramedics took her to hospital as she passed out multiple times in front of them because her oxygen levels were so low.
“When I did get to the hospital, they said that if I hadn’t been taken in, it might have been a very different outcome,” she added.
When she did arrive at hospital, she recognised one of her fellow patients and asked to be moved near him in his final days.
She said it had been incredibly sad: “I’ve supported a lot of people, but this really hit me hard.
“It’s an honour to be involved in the end of anyone’s life, but the thanks from the family is everything. It’s a natural thing for me to do, to give them that comfort, hold their hand and answer any questions honestly.”
After around ten days in hospital and three months off work, Tracy has been able to get back to her job, though still experiences some after-effects in relation to her liver and her memory.
“I couldn’t wait to get back,” she said. “There were challenges, suddenly flights of stairs were a problem but this is what I do. The charity has been brilliant and supported me to come back slowly, but I always want to jump back in, that’s just me.”
As for the award itself, she said it was “lovely to be recognised like this” but added she wanted to thank her team leader Codie and colleagues Lee and Vicky – who even Facetimed her while she was on the Covid-19 ward in Gateshead.
Marc Brodie, managing director for North East at Community Integrated Care, said: “Tracy has been supporting people with autism and learning disabilities for over 20 years, and her caring nature and dedication is unwavering.
“Though the circumstances of this story are incredibly sad, her focus to do the utmost to help others during such a difficult time is an inspiration. We’re so incredibly proud of her.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.