Home Care Comments
A Day in the Life of a Professional Home Carer
Each member of our home care team will typically visit several clients in a day. Although we are able to build strong relationships with our clients through providing continuity of care and visits of at least one hour in length the role is very varied and depends very much on each client’s needs.
My name is Jo and I am a home carer at Carefound where I visit elderly clients in their own homes in and around the Harrogate area (North Yorkshire). I love my job – no two days are ever the same even though I generally visit the same clients.
On a typical day my first visit will start at 7:45am. I go to see an elderly gentleman who lives alone but has family close by. I am there to give him the confidence to shower independently, prepare his breakfast, wash-up, clean the bathroom after he has finished using it, and carry out any other tasks he may need doing such as ironing. This morning I changed the bed linen and put it to wash. I was also asked to go to the flat below to clean the bath after a leak from the ceiling! I check he is eating his breakfast and has all he needs before leaving for my next appointment. We will only visit clients for periods of one hour upwards which is great as we get the time to make sure that their needs are truly met.
After this I drive to my next client – an elderly lady with dementia who lives alone. I am able to use the specialist dementia training we receive at Carefound which is based on something called the ‘SPECAL method’. This includes things such as not asking direct questions (this is very hard at first but does make a huge difference), not contradicting, and gathering as much information as possible from the ‘expert’ (the person with dementia).
I arrive, let myself in and call out “hello”, to let her know that I have arrived. I find her in bed and offer to assist her with a wash and a change of clothes. This is accepted along with the promise of a footbath. I get everything ready and we chat and laugh together as she has a wash and changes her clothes. Then she puts her feet into the bath of warm, soapy water and sits, soaking and splashing her feet. We talk about all sorts of things – her love of running, being in the army, working in a shop and then somehow get onto talking about childhood memories and sledging!
When the client is ready, I prepare her breakfast. Whilst she is eating I wash up, clean the bathroom, and make her bed. Then I join her to have a drink and we chat together. She has a lovely smile and a good sense of humour; we have some fabulous conversations together. At the end of the visit I always tell her when I will be back and leave her with a cup of tea and a biscuit, and she waves me off down her drive from the window of her bungalow.
I then go on to my next client who is a gentleman with dementia in need of prompting and assisting with taking his medication. I am met at the door with a smile and set to work, gathering his medication from the safe where it is kept. Once they are taken, signed for and put away, we sit down with a drink. I am given a tour of his house and shown his collection of button hooks in a cabinet. He then talks of his sailing days and comments on the many pictures of boats on his walls. He tells me of travels to France and Portugal. Then we move to South America and all the animals he saw up close. He talks of elephants and lions, so close that you could touch them – at the end of the visit I feel I have travelled the world and not even left Harrogate! Again, I am able to use my dementia training to ensure that the client remains comfortable and trusting in communicating with me.
I now go to my last client of the day. Here I am greeted by the clients’ dog at the door. I start by feeding the birds, stocking up the garden bird feeders. There are so many birds here including woodpeckers, bluebirds, goldfinches, sparrows and the occasional pigeon. Any I don’t know, the lady tells me. I then refill the feed bags before taking the dog around the block at the owners’ request. I then go inside and wash up the client’s breakfast pots. We chat about various things including her favourite television programmes, if she has been watching the horse racing and most importantly, if any of her bets have been successful! I then find out her lunch preferences and find out what she would like for supper. I make soup with assistance from the client and she decides she would like a jacket potato and salad dressing for lunch. I also prepare garlic mash and vegetables for her to have with her tea. I then do her recycling – newspaper, plastic and compost. Whilst the client has her lunch I take her dog out for a walk into the grounds of the estate where she lives. I walk for an hour amongst the deer and red kite that circle overhead. It is a fabulous part of the job, especially when the sun is shining. Who needs a gym workout, when you can be out and about in the fresh air! On my return, the client and I chat. I might do a little ironing, cleaning or tidying before leaving, refill her water jugs, and change the dog’s water. On occasion I do some gardening and have even collected soil from molehills to fill up her pots for patio plants.
The joys of this job really are the variety, the people you meet and the journeys you can go on with them. You learn so much about people and their lives without having to ask too many questions, just by listening. Where else can you get so much variety, laughter and exercise?