We were delighted last week when we asked two of our care-work team how they felt about their days and this is what they said:
Jackie: ‘I used to work in a kennels and run my own business dog-grooming but dogs don’t talk and people are more interesting!’ she smiles. Then for a long time I worked for a company who offered people short term loans. I used to meet all sorts of people collecting their payments when they were due which I liked. I was self-employed though so I didn’t get paid holidays or anything, which I do now, and the pressure from the company was always increasing – they wanted me to encourage people to take on extra loans they couldn’t afford and I’m not that sort of person. I wanted to help people not get them into difficulty and so I decided it was time for a complete change.
My mum had dementia, Alzheimer’s, and had carers come in to look after her and I loved how they looked after her at home, so she could carry on living with my Dad who she’d been married to for ever. Being patient, coaxing and caring, they helped support her without taking away any her dignity. Dad enjoyed their visits too as he liked chatting to them. They relieved him of a real burden and my sisters and I felt much more relaxed knowing they were looking after my mum well and so they made a difference to our whole family.
It looked so rewarding being able to help people, and to help them in the place that they really wanted to be and so I trained to become a care worker. It’s been a real eye-opener. It can be challenging at times and the traffic can be a nuisance at rush hour but I like to be busy and I enjoy listening to the radio in the car in between visits – the round I do is all pretty local. I can really help and see the difference I make to people and the changes in them because of it and that’s brilliant. I always joke with them and we make each other laugh.
‘All my regulars are very friendly and they’re so pleased to see me when I go in, they have such big smiles. It’s fascinating too to be caring in the community I grew up in,’ she continues. ‘You never know what you’ll find out. My Gran was the youngest of six and it turned out she was the aunt of one of my client’s – although she was forty years older than me – so we were second cousins and she had old photos of my Gran in her album!’
Another lady I look after was an art teacher – she struggles with dementia and so she isn’t very talkative but when she opens up and shares something of her past it feels great. I was so surprised she had been the creative type as I’d never have expected it.
It’s a pleasure to be giving back to other people what those carers gave to my Mum. It something we’ll always appreciate and we’ll never forget. It’s totally different to what I’ve done before and I’m definitely happier now!’
‘I used to be a prison officer and then I looked after my Granddad for eighteen months, when he needed care, and I really enjoyed it and so I moved into social care.
It’s nice to meet different people especially those that don’t necessarily have anyone else, and I’m their outreach to the outside world – otherwise they wouldn’t have one and they live their lives a little bit through you. At that time of life, no one should feel alone.
I like to think I’m adding value to their days, support, purpose and a degree of friendship. If they’re having a bad day I can offer comfort too. I’m just a person for them to chat to as well as seeing to their care needs in the way they want me to.
I tell them about my life and what I’m up to which they love and I learn a huge amount about them and their lives too. One man was in the army in India and he Far East and used to try and teach me Malay because he could speak it – but I wasn’t very good at it!
One of my ladies talks about her husband a lot as she misses him terrible. He was a policeman in the village where I grew up so that’s really interesting, and another lived on a farm and describes living there and what life was like. My grandparents were farmers locally and she even knew them, so her reminiscences give me an insight into what own family’s past would have been like. Another ran a pub for 49 years and she certainly has some stories to tell!
Care work can be hard in some ways but it’s enjoyable. I love the clients and that makes it easy! I work three days in one week and five in the next which I worked out with the office to suit my lifestyle and whenever I see my rota I think ‘Great!’ because I look forward to seeing everyone. I go in with a smile and they’re thrilled to see me. Once you’ve built up a rapport, every visit is part of a continual conversation whilst you’re carrying out your tasks and then it isn’t intrusive – and making them laugh is always a bonus.’