How did you first get into care and why did you choose care?
Before I came into care, I was an admin assistant in hospitality, a totally different sector. My personal experience inspired me to work in care. I was working in an office before, and at the time my mother in law had care assistants coming to her in her own home. She was telling me bits and pieces about the carers that came in and I felt like I could do as good or a better job. I said if I was ever made redundant, I’d have a go at care. She sadly passed away before that happened but I was made redundant and I thought right, I can afford to drop hours and do the job part time. I started in home care 10 years ago for another home care company, and started at Right At Home in April 2018. Jane, the registered manager here was my manager in my previous job. I knew she had moved here and I was interested in joining a new organisation. I had a chat with her and next thing I knew I was offered a job!
What training and qualifications have you achieved since working in care?
I have my Level 2 in Health and Social Care as well as all mandatory and update training including: medication; moving and assisting; food hygiene; health and safety; Basic Life Support; First Aid and many more. Some are updated yearly and some more often.
How supportive is the management here?
They are 100% supportive here. It is like a family. If you are worried or concerned you can come in and express how you feel and the team are there to support you. Any concerns are dealt with immediately. You always get a cup of tea offered as soon as you walk through the door. It’s a really nice, friendly team here and although it’s a serious job it’s relaxed in a way because you feel comfortable with everyone. No 15 minutes call, a minimum of 1-hour calls gives you plenty of time to actually sit and think about the needs of the individual and have a proper conversation rather than rushing off. This is when they come out with things they probably would not have if you were in a rush, and I feel I’m able to provide a better quality of care as a result of this.
What are the needs of the people you support?
At the moment I’m supporting an older lady and a lady my age, but over the years I’ve supported so many different people. At the moment it’s mainly personal hygiene, food preparation and general jobs with them in their home. I’ve worked with such a variety of people and even end of life, where the goal is to go in to ensure that person is comfortable in their last days and weeks. Many people see personal care as quite a taboo, that they couldn’t help someone with getting changed or help them go to the toilet but that really is such a small part of it. Even if you’re nervous at first this will change after your first client. You have got to be a people person, if you like people then you would love care. The people have so much to give you too, their own stories are amazing. Sometimes you get people that are reserved but most people are happy to see you and just have someone to talk to.
What do your average week shift patterns look like?
I normally do about 10-13 hours per week, including every other weekend. I do an hour a day 9am to 10am, on a Friday I also have a lady I see 10.30am to 11.30am. I am 63 now and I just want to do a bit, I can’t do a full day anymore! This week I am doing 22 hours to cover one of my colleagues which is 4 hours each day. If there is a problem or a shift needs covering Jane will call me and see if I can do this. I nearly always say yes but I never feel under pressure to do this. That’s the joy of having less hours as I can be more flexible. It suits me well.
Care is like shifting sand. The people I am looking after today are not going to be there 1, 2, 12 months down the line, whether they move into a home, move away or pass away. This means that hours change as different clients come in as people have different times. Times, people and places are changing so you need a level of flexibility in home care.
What do you love about working in adult care?
It’s nice to go into work and you just do the job, the clients are 90% of the time so pleased to see you, you have no one looking over your shoulder, you know exactly what you are doing, and you get to build a rapport with people. You know their likes and dislikes so it’s just such a nice a job to do, just making a positive difference for people. Sometimes they say, I’d rather you do it this way. You have to be flexible, but also ensure that you do what is best for the client. For example, you may have someone that doesn’t want their hair washed and you have to approach this gently until you get them on side with you and let you help them wash their hair. Then you know you have achieved something and helped them when they didn’t want you to at first, because they feel better after.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
It’s difficult when someone is coming to the end of their life or has had a bad fall and you can see they are physically in pain, that’s hard and there have been times I’ve gone out to my car and cried. It’s going to get to you, and some people get to you more than others. You can try to put this shield up but it is hard sometimes because we are all human. The emotional challenges are hardest but you learn to cope with this and the reward outweighs this.
What would you say to someone to inspire them to consider working in care?
If you have got a caring nature, it’s a great way to spend a day. If you have the instinct in you or are interested in helping people then you have to just give it a go. It’s not for everybody, you have to take the rough with the smooth but it overrides that if you have that caring nature inside you. It’s so rewarding when at the end of the day you leave and say, ‘that was my days work but I thoroughly enjoy myself’ – there is not that many people who can say that and there are not many jobs that are rewarding like this. I’m near retirement now and I’ve had lots of different jobs in different environments, but this is the one I’ve had the most enjoyment out of. I’m cut out to do this job as I can just talk to people as if they are my brother or my sister. Making that individual feel comfortable is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter what age they are or what is wrong with them. Being my age, we get to compare notes on arthritis! It has got its perks!