Tailored to each individual with a strong emphasis on promoting independence, it’s little wonder that over recent years, demand for home care is rising within the private sector.
Supporting and enabling independence, comfort and familiarity. Home care is an excellent option to meet all types of care user needs. Assistance with daily living, home care preserves dignity, quality of life and is less expensive than residential care.
So, what sort of person fills this role and what’s involved?
As an inspirational young 19-year-old, studying for a psychology degree, Toby isn’t your stereotypical home carer. Today, we talk to the next generation of home carers. We’ll discover what drives Toby and why he chose this career path. Learn more about his fascinating first-hand insight into home care.
Q: Why did you choose to become a home carer?
A: Two reasons led me into this line of work. First and foremost, I’m an altruistic person, I genuinely love helping and putting others first. Secondly, as a psychology student, I wanted to gain more insight and experience. In particular, working with people who have mental health disorders and neurodegenerative diseases associated with old age. Diseases such as dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s link to neuro psychology and I’m particularly interested in this field. It’s such a crucial area that we need to understand more about, in order to develop appropriate medications and treatments.
Q: What qualifications do you need to work as a home carer?
A: I didn’t need any formal qualifications, as I completed a training course when I was accepted for the job. I needed a DBS check, which was easy and straightforward. The training involved a mixture of classroom-based work and shadowing sessions with experienced home carers. I learned about using PPE, hygiene and first aid; how to administer medication, maintain catheters, stoma bags and how to use machinery and equipment, such as hoists and commodes. Being a carer is definitely more about personality than academic skills. You need to be a very patient, sensitive and supportive person. Respectful, a good communicator with lots of empathy. It’s a responsible role that requires trust and reliability. Confidentiality is a big thing, for both the care users and the agency that provides the service.
Q: Describe your typical day as a home carer
A: I cover the Dorset area and my working hours are flexible; currently working part-time around my studies. My first home visit starts at 7 am. I visit up to eight people during each shift, spending between 30 minutes and one hour with each person, depending on their needs. I generally visit the same care users because continuity is very important. This is also good practice considering the current pandemic. During the morning shift, I usually help care users out of bed, dress and wash them ready for the day, prepare their meals, drinks and administer medication. I make time to listen and chat with them about anything—from the news, the weather, their lives to how they’re feeling. After each visit, I file a report back to the office, covering everything that I did during my visit. This record can then be used in case of an emergency—such as a hospital visit—so a medical professional can see the build-up to any given situation. It also provides peace of mind to both the carer and the care user.
Q: What types of needs do your care users have?
A: Most care users require once or twice daily home visits and some, up to four times each day. Generally, in the over sixties age group, I complete a wide range of tasks that care users cannot do for themselves. My care users suffer with a range of conditions, including dementia, mental health, diabetes and they can often be hard of hearing.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about being a home carer?
A: I love hearing about and chatting with different people, learning about their diseases, inflictions and their lives, opinions and views. Being a home carer is so rewarding because you absolutely make a real difference to someone’s day. As a fit and healthy young person, it makes me appreciate and value my own life much more too.
Q: What do you find most challenging about being a home carer?
A: Sometimes it can affect you, as there are some sad stories and that can have an impact. Coronavirus is currently an unprecedented challenge. I’m constantly aware of the regulations and practical measures that I need to implement to ensure that I don’t inadvertently pass anything to my care users—and vice versa. Health and safety issues are very real right now and just before a home visit, I put on an apron, mask, gloves and a face shield. Any PPE is always carefully disposed of between each visit.
Q: What do your care users enjoy about having a home carer?
A: Alongside meeting practical needs and providing quality care, most care users want to develop a warm relationship with their carers. Loneliness is a massive problem among care users, sometimes their families may live a long way away or are simply too busy with their own lives to visit as much as they’d like. I’m often the only person that the care user sees, socially interacts with or talks to all day and I’m very aware of this. My care users like that I don’t rush, that I treat them with respect, dignity and that I’m always friendly, personable and chatty. Continuity of care is vitally important too, care users want to get to know their carers and place confidence in them; seeing a new face each time can be daunting, uncomfortable and overwhelming, particularly for more vulnerable people.
Q: What advice would you give to care users seeking a service such as this?
A: Establish what type of care you or your loved one needs and do your research beforehand. Some care users may simply require company, shopping, housekeeping, personal care or meals, while other care users may have more challenging needs and even cultural or language considerations. You also need to think about whether you require 24-hour home care, day visits and/or emergency provisions. Make a list to compare experience, credibility and the services they provide. Ensure that carers are vetted and checked by the relevant authorities, such as criminal record background checks. Ask for recommendations, interview potential carers and agencies and search the internet. Remember, genuine carers offer a valuable service and the horror stories that we occasionally hear about in the press are very rare. Sadly, we don’t often hear about the countless home care success stories.
Q: Would you recommend this as a career choice for other young people?
A: Yes, but being a carer is far, far more than just earning a living. It’s a labour of love and it requires special personality traits to do this successfully. The life experience it brings is eye-opening and although sometimes other people’s situations can make you feel sad, knowing how much you do make a difference is the key. For a career, there are so many opportunities to grow, develop, learn and train. It’s a fascinating field with so many different avenues and is a great way to explore and develop, both as a person and professionally. It’s also a great step for advancing into psychology-based jobs, such as counselling. However, the squeamish need not apply!
For more information about becoming a carer, visit: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/care-worker