Carer in the Spotlight: Emily
A Day In The Life Of A Live In Carer
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I was born in Herefordshire, went to Madley Primary School, and followed onto Kington High School, I then went onto Hereford College of Arts where I studied performing arts and music. I have always had music in my life, my mother went around in her band singing in pubs and my brother performed in musical productions at the Courtyard. After leaving college, I joined a cover band called Nova and we would perform all around the country at weddings etc. I then decided to audition for a company in the UK that send people out to Asia to perform in hotels and venues, and to my delight, I was offered a contract to work in Beijing in June 2019. I was in there for about 4 months. We worked 6 days a week, with Sundays off. One day we took a trip to the Forbidden City in Beijing. It’s so surreal, a whole city abandoned, with a heavy security presence. Certain statues we were forbidden to take photos of. Overall, it was a fascinating place to visit, I felt there was quite a language/cultural barrier at times but I felt very privileged to have spent some time there.
In November of that year I worked in Singapore with a new band, it helped me grow as a person, meeting lots of different people from different backgrounds. It really helped my confidence, and the people were all so friendly and genuine. An amazing city that does not stop 24/7. I got back to the UK in April 2020 amid lockdown. I stayed with my sister as my mother was shielding. It was nice to spend some time at home after being away for so long.
Being a carer
What did you do after your travelling?
I decided I wanted to get back into care work again, I had done it previously for another company and I remember doing my training at Kemble at Home and thinking, I wish I worked for this company. So I knew straight away who to apply with!
Were you apprehensive going into care work amid the pandemic?
Yes, and I still am. I worry I’ll bring the virus home but at the end of the day people still need our help and support. I found wearing PPE very hard initially as it’s hard to communicate so freely with the clients but I understand the importance of wearing it.
What are the best bits about being a carer?
I think it’s absolutely amazing to be able to support people in their own home. Some of our clients have lived in that same house for 50/60 years and to have to leave is just so sad. I get to support them at home where they are at their most comfortable and I think that’s really special.
What are some of the challenging parts?
Probably the initial settling in to a placement and getting to know your client’s little habits. You sometimes feel a bit homesick, I find especially in winter. Sometimes the repetition of the days too.
What about personal care? No I never really struggled with that, I always thought, well what if that was my Nan? I would want them to be treated with dignity and respect.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about this role?
You are never going to know unless you try, I also had doubts, but you have to try to remember we are all just human and once you get in and start, it gets easier. There is always support with your managers, along with training and shadowing until you are ready. Even carers who have been in the role for 20 years are still learning.
On reflection, have some of the people skills you have learnt in your care role helped in your personal life?
Oh yeah, definitely, 100% it’s given me empathy for other people, confidence to speak to just about anyone and a different outlook in life. It makes you feel good to give back. I remember a client who was in the war, he showed me some photos and it makes you realise, they too were young once, living the most incredible lives - it really opened my eyes.
Has this role helped connect you more to your community during lockdown?
It has massively helped me with my mental health being able to still connect with people. When we were very much in lockdown I got to still have some form of normality by going to work and seeing my clients. It’s highlighted to me the importance of community and I feel this pandemic has made us stronger and brought us closer together. It was also so important for the clients to still receive their carers when, often, we would be the only friendly face they would see in a day.
Talk me through a typical day as a live in carer?
I would get my client up in the morning, assist them with their showering and dressing, we would then go through to their sun lounge, where we would have our tea and toast whilst watching the birds. During their nap I will go around and do some cleaning, I love cleaning- it makes me happy. Later we will have lunch and I’ll talk to them. My client has limited communicative skills but they are still with me and I feel like it
stimulates them. They may not say much but they’ll smile at something funny or have a sparkle in their eyes. They are so amazing and that keeps me going.
So what creative ways can you connect with them? They love Neil Diamond or Elvis so I often play it, or put a concert on and you can see them really engage. They also have a projector that projects stars on the ceiling at night, which relaxes them.
How long are you placed with your client? One week on one week off but that can vary to your preference. How does the rest of the day go? We might have a visitor or an appointment to attend which I will accompany them to. I help with buying groceries and making the meals of my clients’ choice. We will have supper together and later I will assist my client to bed.
What can you expect at your placement?
You will always get your own personal space, your own bedroom and Wi-Fi available to keep in touch with your friends and family. You get a break in the day where you can pop home or go out. I’m really lucky, my clients’ daughter has made me feel very welcome by buying me some lovely bedding and furniture for my room. Sometimes I just go to my room and watch a movie on my breaks, or use the gym in their home. My client lives in the countryside so that makes me feel more at home as I live on a farm. Kemble at Home take these things into consideration when placing you with a client, they want to make a good match-for you and the client.
What difficult situation have you been in that stands out within your role?
I remember having a client who I used to go to regularly for a 3 hour period over the course of 5 months, we knew each other well but the one day I got there and she got really agitated and upset towards me and told me to leave. It made me feel scared for her and upset. What did you do? I had to leave for around 30 minutes then came back; she had calmed down but was still confused and upset. Working closely with clients who have varying forms of dementia or Alzheimer’s - these types of situations can come up.
What lovely day/memory do you have with a client?
There’s been loads so it’s really hard to pick one, but probably it’s been a recent client, they would look away or close their eyes whenever I walked in when I was first placed there, it got to a point where I was starting to feel a bit despondent, worrying if I was doing the right thing. But one day after being in the placement for a couple of weeks, they said to me ‘you have the most beautiful eyes-thank you so much for everything that you do’. Something so small was so big to me and it is those moments that make it worthwhile.
Finally, does your age help in this role or do you sometimes find it difficult to relate to your clients coming from another generation?
I have noticed it can help and it can hinder, but with everything, once you get to know and understand your client that just isn’t an issue.