'I see it as an opportunity' - care staff praise rehab centre's welcome culture

Mariya Petkova Shainy Mathew and Anju Antony of Askham Village Community

Mariya Petkova, Shainy Mathew and Anju Antony (both inset) who all work as lead nurses at Askham Village Community. - Credit: Askham Village Community

At one Cambridgeshire rehabilitation centre, International Nurses Day has not just been about recognising the importance of their work on a day-to-day basis. 

In fact, over the last two years, staff at Askham Village Community have been battling through the Covid-19 pandemic while trying to exemplify a service residents can smile about. 

The centre also looks to recognise the diversity of its staff as part of the international event on May 12. 

Lead nurse Shainy Mathew moved from her native India to join Askham in 2011, where she has risen to a management role. 

“What I love most about Askham is the teamwork and community feeling,” said Shainy. 

Shainy Mathew of Askham Village Community

Shainy Mathew said many residents at Askham express an interest in her heritage. - Credit: Askham Village Community

“Many of the residents express a keen interest in my heritage and it has become a talking point throughout my career. 

“I think the fact I have been here for 11 years speaks volumes to the way I have been treated, not only as an employee but as an Indian woman.” 

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Mariya Petkova, also a lead nurse, took inspiration from her grandmother to work in the profession. 

And since she settled in the UK eight years ago, Mariya was keen to follow in her role model’s footsteps. 

“My grandmother was always a role model to me, so when she decided to retire, I was keen to follow in her footsteps and Askham gave me the opportunity to do so,” she said. 

Mariya Petkova of Askham Village Community

Mariya Petkova took inspiration from her grandmother to head into the social care industry. - Credit: Askham Village Community

“I also enjoy discussing my heritage with residents and see it as an opportunity to forge relationships, not create barriers — something I really think is down to the culture of Askham.” 

For Anju Antony, her Indian roots have never been a problem after making the switch to Askham in Doddington in 2012. 

Anju said: “Askham played a significant role in my professional life and it’s through their motivation and support, I became a lead nurse.” 

Anju Antony of Askham Village Community

Anju Antony said residents often like to see her dressed in traditional Indian clothing to represent her roots. - Credit: Askham Village Community

In fact, she has found it pleasing when residents interact with her culture. 

“Throughout my career here, I have never felt that my Indian heritage has been an issue,” Anju added.  

“And like many of my colleagues, I enjoy it when residents interact with my culture, so I often wear traditional Indian necklaces or clothes — which they love!”