“I started work as a social care assistant, about seven years ago. Before that I worked as a nursery nurse, but after 25 years in childcare I needed something different, something to regain the enthusiasm and high level of job satisfaction that I’d previously had.
I was especially interested in homecare. I felt it would give me the chance to make a difference within my community. But then I thought about it for years and just couldn’t pluck up the courage to change.
Then through close family relatives being cared for at home, I saw just how important it was for them to receive great care and support to live in their own home for as long as possible. It was then I realised I had gained a lot of life experiences and transferable skills required for the job, even though I had no formal qualification in social care.
A lot of it is human instinct. It’s treating somebody with respect, and valuing them, their opinions and the choices they make. It’s understanding their individual needs, and thinking about how I can help, observing, asking, speakingand listening to them.
Two days are never the same. Two clients are never the same. You have to take it stage by stage.
Coming into the job I was concerned about how I could best help somebody who might be at the end of their life. You then realise what a difference you make in people’s life at that point. We get trained for lots of situations including end of life care.
It’s never easy for anyone in that situation. But we know we have done everything within our powers for the person to choose where they want to spend their last weeks and days and with whom. You come out of their home for the last time and know you’ve done your bit and that is so important. Dignity and respect are important from the very start and to the very end of life. People shouldn’t be afraid of death; it’s going to happen to us all. It’s maybe about being open and honest.
I’ve got loads of clients I will never forget. There’s the family of a lady I worked with seven years ago that I’ll bump into from time to time, and we made a bond, because they knew that I completely respected their mum and made a point of understanding and meeting her individual needs. I wouldn’t have treated my own mum any differently.
I love my job, until you do it, you don’t realise how varied the work is. We’re a huge support network for families who have more on their shoulders than they should have to cope with. We’re a part of that picture. It’s all a partnership, everybody together.
If you have that caring nature, loads to give, time to listen to somebody, this job is for you. I don’t think anybody could regret it. My only regret is I didn’t do it sooner. We’re in a privileged position, where people open their door and let us into their lives, and we have to do the wee bits that make that worthwhile. We’re enabling people to live the lives they want to live, as much as possible.
Without care, without looking after each other, what are we?”