What is a Community Facilitator?
I manage the care packages in my areas for those that need care after being discharged from hospital. I cover Bishops Stortford, Sawbridgeworth and Much Hadham. I currently have 25 service users that have come from hospitals that I put a care plan in place for. I also have to ensure that the care assistants are working in an enabling way to get them to live independently. I am a point of contact with social services, GP’s, district nurses and other professionals.
How did you get into care?
I was claiming job seekers for a short time. At one of my Job Centre meetings a job description for Ideal Care came up. I thought I would give it a go as I wanted to get back into work, so I went along to the interview. I remember not really needing any background in care or qualifications to do the job, and after a successful interview they offered me the job later that afternoon. I remember going home and telling my mum I’ve got a job, she asked me what I was going to be doing, and when I said caring she laughed and said “Gemma, you can’t look after yourself, let alone looking after other people.” I’m the one that’s laughing now because I’m still here!
How has your career progressed?
When I first started I was a Care Assistant, visiting elderly service users in their own homes. After 3 years Care By Us took over the contract. Colin and Alison see potential in everyone, and that’s what I love about Care By Us. They seen potential in me and they did keep asking me after some time to become a Senior Care Assistant, but I was quite happy in the role I was doing at the time. Eventually a service called ‘Home from Hospital’ came about which was a pilot scheme from September 2013 to March 2014. They explained how the hospitals were on black alert with beds being at full capacity with individuals that were medically fit to go home but needed a high level of care, and this scheme was to provide the interim care while the main care was being sourced. Care By Us was really pleased with the way that I care so they approached me and asked if I would join the pilot scheme and at this stage I thought “Yes, let’s go for it.” The pilot was successful and so this continued as a full service. I was provided with a company car and mileage was covered, as at this time there was a lot of travelling all over East Hertfordshire. This service grew significantly and then the enablement project was introduced as they found that a lot of service users were not requiring long term care. Around 2 years ago they approached me again and said they really wanted me to progress and become a Community Facilitator. I agreed and I haven’t looked back. It has been great!
How has your current employer supported you with your development and training?
I’ve completed a lot of different courses and study days including becoming a dementia specialist. I completed Functional Assessment training specific for my role as a Community Facilitator, which is similar to an occupational therapist, so that we can order equipment we feel the service users would benefit from. Care By Us have offered all of this development, I’ve never needed to ask.
Why do you love working in adult social care?
There are a lot of reasons. I never seen it in myself but I’ve been told I am a naturally caring person. My main reason is to be able to go into a house and change that person’s day, and in effect, their life. My role is to help people to rebuild their independence again so they do not need any further care. To see the outcome when they have been through the trauma of being ill or injured and depending completely on carers to a few weeks later when they no longer need any support is a great feeling, knowing you have made a positive difference to other people’s lives.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
The biggest challenge is going into someone’s life and home who has never needed care before and do not know what to expect. It’s a fear of the unknown for them. Talking them round to accepting care and leaving them with a changed outlook on the care they are going to receive is challenging but worthwhile.
What would you say to someone who wants to work in care but might have hesitations?
You’re not going to know unless you try. I would never have seen myself in care. Care is like marmite, you either like it or you don’t but you have to give it a go to know if it’s really right for you.