Working in a care home isn’t for everyone and it can certainly be challenging at times. However, it can also be immensely rewarding, in so many different ways. Working so closely with people allows you to form long-lasting relationships, with both those you’re caring for and your colleagues. Find out what makes carers enjoy their roles so much.
If you’ve never worked in one, it’s difficult to know what to expect when working in a care home.
The truth is, however, that you should expect something different each day. Since you’ll be working with people, your days will be unpredictable and much will depend on how residents are feeling.
Although residents need a certain amount of structure in their days, you’ll also need to react to their changing needs and sometimes be led by what they want to do. You’ll find yourself involved in all sorts of activities, from arts & crafts and movie nights to sports and coffee mornings. In fact, experiencing new activities might even lead you to take up some new hobbies!
Caring for people – whether they’re older individuals or younger people requiring specialist care – means getting to know them and spending plenty of one-to-one time with them. That way you can better understand their abilities and their needs, as well as how they like to socialise, have their meals and spend their time. In short, the closer you get to individuals, the better you’ll be able to care for them.
Much more than that though, you’ll come to know the people well, providing companionship on a daily basis. You’ll become an important part of their world: someone they can rely upon and will look forward to seeing.
Yet the job of a carer also includes lots of teamwork, both when you’re with residents and while you’re preparing or planning their care. Some of your colleagues will have different skills to you, and together you’ll form a team that delivers great all-round 24 hour care to people. As time goes on, you’ll come to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, refining the way you look after residents to give them the best care possible.
It’s vital that you communicate effectively with your coworkers, keeping track of and sharing information on residents’ physical and mental wellbeing – and reacting swiftly to any downturn in their health.
There are many different reasons why people might need to live in a care home. Of course, some residents will only be there on a temporary basis for respite care. Others will be undergoing rehabilitation (after surgery or injury) or specialist neurological rehabilitation. While some will be long-term residents who may require end of life care during their remaining days in your care home.
More than anything, however, every person you take care of is an individual, with their own needs, preferences and sensibilities. You’ll come to learn much more about how best to care for people once you get to know them.
It goes without saying that residents will depend upon you for their ongoing wellbeing. You’ll support them with their personal hygiene, mealtimes and organising their affairs. Often, one of the most important duties of a carer is administering medicine.
You’ll also have a great moral responsibility: to make sure residents are as happy and as independent as possible, whether you’re supporting a short-term or long-term resident.
It’s much more important that a carer has a compassionate personality than qualifications. The ability to empathise with residents is absolutely crucial.
But you’ll also need to undergo training sessions to make sure you can look after residents properly. Manual handling, food hygiene and health & safety are just a few of the areas your training will incorporate. To deliver a high standard of care, you’ll need to have regular training, making certain you’re following best practice as it evolves. This is especially important in relation to medication, which, of course, has the potential to cause harm if delivered incorrectly.
You have a responsibility to stay up to date with your training requirements. These do, of course, vary with the role you’re performing at the care home.
In an ideal scenario, working in a care home is like caring for a family member. You’ll feel a genuine connection to residents and gain a good understanding of how you can support them, while still allowing them as much independence as possible.