What makes a great live in carer?

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Great Live-in care

What Makes A Great Live-in Carer?

Live in care involves a carer staying in your loved one’s home for several weeks and providing one on one support for the duration of their stay. Many of us would prefer to stay at home rather than move into a care home. Home is where we feel safe, surrounded by the people (and pets) we love and it’s no surprise that demand for home care is greater than ever. Many arrange live-in care where a carer moves into the spare room for the duration of their stay. It gives the extra assurance of knowing someone is on hand to help with everything from washing and dressing, meal preparation, trips out, household tasks and a whole host of tasks not mentioned in a job description.

We’ve spoken to live in carers to find out what life is like for them when they are living with clients, away from their own family and friends and how they manage to balance work with family life.

Katie started her care journey providing hourly care for a private client and from there moved into live-in care. “Live-in care just seemed like a good fit for me at the time. My children had moved out, I love caring for people and helping them remain independent. You spend so much time with your clients It means you can really get to understand what they need. Before when I did hourly care with the council, I struggled to ever get on top of any issues. You didn’t have time to breathe. Now I really feel like my efforts make a real difference”.

Live-in care pays the carers from £600 upwards per week, depending on the intensity of the role and other factors. It’s a very challenging role and few people are suited to being great live-in carers. It requires a special person to balance the demands of the role and succeed in delivering consistent care. As Maura puts it, “live-in care is tough, but incredibly rewarding as well! You might be working for 10 hrs a day but you need to be professional for 24! You feel incredibly responsible for your client. Their happiness, well-being, health and diet, social interactions and overall quality of life.”

It’s important to remember that when out on placement, carers have a balancing act of their own to get right. Work life balance is a popular topic of conversation around many dinner tables in society. On placement, a carers focus is always their client, but they also have their own home life and friendship circle to manage. Live-in carer Mary says “It’s about communication. I try and ensure I speak to my family every day on my breaks and when my client is in bed I’ll often phone home, WiFi certainly helps!” Is there anything that would make the balance easier? Most carers said the agency and families involved need to appreciate carers need to have their daily breaks like anyone else and a specified time in the evening when their work ends. Usually when the client retires for the evening.

“I’ve had clients start to have very restless nights and that should mean an additional night carer if it’s regularly happening. I guess that’s expensive for the family to arrange so I’m sometimes expected to be on hand over my stated hours. Not getting much sleep every now and then is one thing but if it’s all the time, it’s not fair.”

We asked all the carers we interviewed to sum up what makes a good live-in carer in their opinion? Who better to ask than those tasked with looking after our loved ones in this way.

“I think you need to be a great organiser, patient, positive and a good communicator. You can be dealing with families that don’t always agree on what’s happening and that brings added pressures.”

“My kids call me Mary Poppins, but my clients are not children. They have lived and know what they like and what they don’t. They’ve sometimes travelled the world, seen and experienced many things I haven’t, it’s important to always remember they have a voice and it should always be heard.”

“It’s hard to imagine a more varied role. I’m rubbish with technology but so far this year we’ve had a hoot setting up Alexa and trying to skype her sister in Canada. It would have been quicker to write a letter. We got there though and together we are a pretty determined team.”

“Her beloved dog Archie passed away and she wanted him buried in the garden. I’ve never seen soil so hard. I’m digging and sobbing and she’s saying, ‘oh my Archie’ and ‘bury him deep’. She’s named him after her late husband. The neighbour was looking out their top window probably hearing all this. So, you’re asking what makes a good carer? I’m just happy to be still living on the outside after that little episode. I guess a sense of humour helps”.

Putting this together we heard so many heart-warming stories from live-in carers. Funny and sad in equal measure. Carers going above and beyond to bring smiles and happiness to their clients. In addition to all their other duties we have carers going to libraries to get audio books as their clients love certain books, bringing them to dance classes, introducing them to yoga, bringing pets to vets and a million other examples of being there through it all with the clients they support. But just as importantly, the carers said they learnt so much from their clients so it works both ways. As with all successful relationships, when it clicks, everyone wins. .