South Asian Heritage Month: the Indian carers swapping Kerala for Kendal

Kerala and Kendal are more than ten thousand kilometres apart. One is a state in the south of India, the other a town in South Lakeland.

Yet the places are connected by a special relationship that has seen dozens of nurses move between the two areas over the last couple of years to work at Heron Hill Care Home in Kendal.

After struggling to recruit staff, in 2020 the home started sponsoring Indian workers and employing them as senior healthcare workers.

Jency James started working at the home in November 2021. Like most of the other sponsored workers, she was a nurse in India, so has previous care experience.

Jency and Leena, another carer at Heron Hill

She said: "We do the same thing in India. When I was here for the first time of course we have difficulty while communicating with the residents.

"So that time it was very difficult but after one or two months I just came to know how to communicate with the residents."

Having other Indian colleagues helps newer recruits settle in, like Vinitha Mathews.

She said: "They teach each and everything from the beginning. We get more knowledge and better opportunity to work here.

"The main problem I faced, difficult to find a house in here, so last six months I really struggled to bring my family in here."

Vinitha and her family Credit: Family photo

Vinitha says she has now found a suitable house in Kendal and her family will join her soon.

Her colleague, Mohamed Arsak Pulikathodi, has been in the UK for four year. He went to university in Lancashire and enjoyed his time there so much he decided to stay.

Mohamed attended university in Lancashire

He said: "Everyone was very nice. I've got many friends here. I used to work in Windermere as well so I've got many friends."

Nicola Spedding is the manager of the care home. She is delighted with how the decision to start hiring from India has turned out.

She said: "We wouldn't have managed throughout Covid without our overseas team.

"We recruited quite a lot at the beginning and then we've just continued to do so because we are finding recruitment quite difficult up in Cumbria."

With more staff from India joining soon, the connection between Kerala and Kendal is going from strength to strength.

It is a relationship that everyone at the care home is grateful for, with care and understanding at its heart.