Borders carer recovers from heart attack and gets dream job

A BORDERS woman who suffered a heart attack two months ago has recovered to land her dream job.

Samantha Nicol, from Broughton, in Tweeddale, has been working as a care assistant at Peebles Care Home since January last year but suffered a minor heart attack eight weeks ago.

However, the 28-year-old made a rapid recovery to earn a promotion into the role of activities co-ordinator at the Mansfield Care-run premises.

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“Care has always been an integral part of my life – from the age of 14, I cared for my dad who suffered from advanced bowel cancer,” said Ms Nicol.

“More recently I had been working as a care assistant at Peebles Care Home, as well as taking care of my mum over lockdown before she sadly passed away.

“I absolutely love care, and so when I saw the opportunity was there to take on the role of activities co-ordinator I went for it.

“I have so many ideas for the care home which I’m hoping to implement in the New Year – I’m a big fan of therapy pets as they provide such amazing comfort and reassurance, and I think it’s something our residents would really enjoy.

“I am also keen to bring in professionals in art and pottery to teach our residents different skills, which would be both interactive and help develop cognitive and sensory activity.

“It’s important that our activities are stimulating for our residents, not only does this make it fun it also helps to maintain positive mental health.”

Suffering a heart attack is not the first adverse health issue that Ms Nicol has had to overcome.

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A horse riding accident in 2015 resulted in a multi-tiered brain injury which left her having to relearn how to write, walk and talk.

Following the accident, Ms Nicol has viewed her health as a challenge which is difficult to overcome.

However, she also says it has been pivotal in her life and career as a carer.

“The horse riding accident was incredibly difficult. I was stood on and dragged for some time.

“Of course, it wasn’t the horse’s fault – it was an unfortunate accident,” she said.

“I was off work for 14 months. The recovery process was really tough, and as you can imagine it took a lot of time for me to be in a position where I could carry out even basic tasks.

“I recall one moment during my recovery where I staggered out of the shops at around 10am. A woman, who was a complete stranger, turned to me and muttered ‘what a disgrace, drunk at this time in the morning’.

“This really shook me – I was in floods of tears that someone who I have never met could just jump to this conclusion without understanding my situation.

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“However, this has really enforced a belief in me to be patient with people and to try and understand the personal situations each resident is in.

“These are qualities which I think are essential to people working in care, in the end I just want to put a smile on the residents’ faces.

“I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and I’m thrilled to have started my new role in shaping our residents’ lives.”

The activities co-ordinator decides on the activities that take place in the care home – with the residents’ wishes and interests taken into account.

Peebles Care Home, located on Tweed Green, currently has 31 residents.

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