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‘I found the work I really wanted to do’

Last update - Thursday, June 12, 2008, 00:00 By Metro Éireann

In the latest instalment of Metro Éireann’s MEET THE BOSS, SANDY HAZEL speaks to Maria Angolo, founder of the Life Line Nursing agency, based in Dublin City Maria Angolo has been in Ireland for 27 years. Arriving here from Namibia to study nursing, Angolo attended the Madonna Nursing College at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe, Co Galway. “At the time it took three years for a nurse to receive her certificate,” she says. “My work experience after graduating was in Merlin Park Hospital in Galway which I loved".

After a stint at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, Angolo realised that midwifery was not for her, so she took a job as a staff nurse with the Highfield Hospital group. “I wanted to be earning more than a student nurse so I went for the salary,” she explains. “I liked to socialise a lot and I also enjoyed shopping for nice clothes, so earning money was important to me then.” Angolo then moved to St Mary’s in the Phoenix Park to work as a staff nurse for the health board.

“This was mainly care for the elderly and I discovered that although there are many who would not enjoy this work, I had found the work I really wanted to do,” says Angolo. “This type of patient can be very demanding, both physically and emotionally. It can involve the hard parts of care. But the reward and job satisfaction is immense. The patients and their families are so appreciative of the integrity and dignity involved in this type of care that you get it back in spades. They are very grateful.” Another chapter began for Angolo when she had a baby and found, as many do, the difficulties of reconciling a demanding job and a small child. “An early drop to the childminder followed by a busy day on the wards and then sometimes working until 9pm, it needed a rethink,” she says. Angolo considered her options: job sharing or agency work. She did some of the latter for a while, but she was still undecided.

“The more I thought about it I knew that there were other people like me who really wanted to choose the hours they worked,” she says. “The best option would be to open my own agency.” Angolo registered for a licence to operate as an employment agency from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. “I had no real business experience but I just registered my documents and jumped right in,” she says. “I was able to run the agency from home as I had the space. One room was for reception and booking the placements, and we had another room for interviewing candidates.” The first step was to get health workers and nurses onto the books. “We advertised, and I couldn’t believe it when people started walking in and registering,” she recalls. When there was enough staff on the books, Angolo then wrote to hospitals and homes to advertise her agency’s services for staff to cover holidays and sick leave. The bookings soon started to roll in, and the agency was up and running.

Life Line Nursing now has nine staff and over 400 nurses and care assistants available on the books. “I did not struggle at all, the response from hospitals and from staff was all positive. It was amazing,” says Angolo. Her business was recently the recipient of the Best Business Idea award at the permanent tsb Ethnic Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. She puts the success of the agency down to the common sense formula of staff needing flexibility, and hooking up with hospitals needing flexible staff. “Some people do not want to be in stable employment and on a roster of work,” she explains of her agency’s philosophy.

Life Line has recently expanded and moved to larger premises. “We offer courses, induction and work experience for care assistants so they know exactly what is expected of them on the job,” says Angolo. “We also do training in manual handling of patients for care workers and lifting loads for general workers. Chronic back injury is common in health professionals and we aim to help reduce the risk.” A good care assistant is one who, according to Angolo, can learn from experience and interact well with colleagues. “They need to be able to look around and see what needs to be done and muck in and do it, they do not stand with hands behind their back. It is team work.” Indeed, Angolo recognises the dedication of her own workers. “The agency would not be here without the work of my own team, and I thank them for that.” Would you like to have your business profiled?


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