We are delighted to introduce Caroline O’Neill, a freelance writer and guest blogger for iCareHealth. Caroline was introduced to us by the Care Workers Charity and in celebration of UK Carers Week 2017, Caroline is sharing a series of three blogs written specifically for care home and agency managers. Caroline has worked for over 32 years as a carer in both home care, day care and residential environments. She has also run and managed her own home care business. With this wealth of experience, Caroline shares insights on how to run a care organisation better.

Advice from an experienced carer…

1985 was a big year. The idea was to reduce the “burden” on residential homes by keeping clients in their own homes with appropriate support.

We had a good set-up we thought. In those days we still had a strong division between domestic help and personal care. It was the usual practice that a client living alone would have a care package comprising of a care manager, key worker/home carer & home help.

The duties for home carer were quite wide and encompassed tasks from bathing to shopping and, most importantly, taking time to sit with the client and just chat or have a cuppa. I often imagined being confined to a box for 24 hours a day. Unable to leave home to socialise or do my own shopping or even weed the garden. It’s an unimaginable loneliness. So the priority became personal care – washing/bathing/dressing and socialising with the client.

In the early days of home care, I felt really valued as an employee. I could talk to my line manager and we decided between us how we could best meet a client’s needs. Because I felt I was involved I was enabled to be the best I could be at providing care to my clients.

Somewhere along the line we have lost the meaning of that word….care.

I left one social services home care department to go private. Not because I wanted to earn millions, but because I felt so disheartened. I believe passionately in enabling my clients to have the best life they can and I have learnt over the last thirty plus years that I needed to divide again the criteria for the clients.

I have had clients whose needs are solely shopping or personal care. I also have clients whose needs are companionship. Someone to sit and chat with them. As we all know, dementia can be so isolating, so to sit with a client and talk about “the old days” is wonderful – I learnt loads too!

Maybe I am too simplistic. I do completely understand that a business is there to make money. But a business needs to have employees who feel valued. Who feel they can talk to their line manager without the fear of losing their job. With the increase in the numbers of older people needing care, home care can be a bottomless pit for earning money.

A valued employee is gold to your business because they stay.

An employee who feels they are making someone else feel better or be happier looks forward to work tomorrow. A happy employee gives more and every one reaps the benefits. We are all living longer so the benefit to a care agency to have a great employee/employer relationship is money in the bank.

To find out more about the Care Workers Charity click here.

To learn more about how technology can enable your staff to spend more time having a ‘cuppa’ with their end users, have a look through our website or contact us on solutions@icarehealth.co.uk.