Our home carers are very special people, who come into the elderly care profession to do more than just a job; they have a deep desire to do good for others and make a real difference to their lives. This was reflected in our earlier published story about Tracy, our Operations Manager and a senior home carer. This week is Dementia Awareness Week, and we’d like to tell you about Ann, another of our amazing carers, who has a very special role to play at Halcyon Home Care. Ann is our Dementia Champion: a Senior Carer with 11 years of experience as a care assistant, senior and operation co-ordinator, she has been developing a best practices programme to support current and future dementia customers in our area. Ann tells her own story about why she became a carer and her journey through to accepting the role of Dementia Champion. She then gives us her own take on the importance of Dementia Awareness Week.
“What motivated me to become a carer was a desire to do a job that made a real difference to people’s lives, and I wanted to do something different with my own life. I found that I really enjoyed helping others.”
A Home Carer Career
I joined Halcyon Home Care in June 2013 after some time away from care. Despite my previous experience as a Care Coordinator I was happy to be doing a job as a Care Assistant in the Community. After a couple of months, Paul, our MD at Halcyon, decided that I would be an ideal candidate to take on the role of Dementia Champion, to support the Dementia Challenge and demonstrate our dedication to both excellence and putting resources in place to support the growing number of people in Berkshire living with dementia. He was looking for someone with an interest in the way we care for people suffering with dementia and how we can make sure that we were doing our best for them. He didn’t want this person to be a manager, rather someone who was actively delivering care in the community and who was very aware of the challenges of caring for people with dementia.
My progression at Halcyon therefore has been swift. Halcyon Home Care has been developing a good reputation and the number of customers and staff across Maidenhead, Windsor and Ascot has grown significantly. At the end of last year I was appointed Senior Carer. This role is mainly about supervising and supporting our staff in the care tasks they undertake, as well as doing quality checks when I turn up unannounced to watch how the carers do their job at a customer’s home. I am also available for the carers to talk to when they have a question or a problem. Once a month I also take the responsibility for the Out-of-Hours On-Call role. When on-call I provide the immediate assurance and support to the staff out caring. This can be from reminding them how to find a new customer through to taking charge and calling the emergency services if there has been an accident.
In April this year I was promoted again to be Deputy Operations Manager. This is much more of an office job but, like Tracy, I will still be out in the community providing care, only not as much. My new role builds on my experiences as a Senior Carer while now including the initial care assessment visits to potential new customers and the weekly allocation of carers to care visits.
I love working at Halcyon because it is committed to meeting the needs of its staff as a way of ensuring they meet the needs of our customers. I have worked at a few different home care agencies around the area and Halcyon is easily the best. We spend a lot of time getting the Care Plans for customers correct so that carers can do their jobs. It was something I always appreciated as a carer and I want to make sure that I continue to do this in the Care Plans that I am writing. Tracy and Paul have given me great support and I have been given some great opportunities in a very short time.
As a career, I think there are three top things that have made caring a good choice for me.
- I love going into someone’s home and feeling that by my efforts I have made a difference to them.
- I enjoy their company and once you know them as a person the little things they ask for are really not too much.
- Knowing that the person you have been to see has been left well and happier from your visit is a great feeling.
Dementia care is special
Caring for people with dementia demands very different skills and knowledge, and that’s why my role is very important. The needs of people suffering with dementia are different from those of elderly where frailty is their main challenge.
Too many people consider dementia in terms of growing confusion and lack of control rather than what capabilities they retain. Care agencies have traditionally treated all elderly customers with similar care plans, based around tasks to be undertaken from a static care plan. We believe that dementia care needs to be something more. I have only just begun to get to grips with my dementia role, but it is to keep challenging our thinking and practices in dementia care and ultimately, if possible, to develop a clear set of standards for providing care for people with dementia.
Dementia is not very well understood and lots of people feel uncomfortable knowing this about something that could easily affect us in old age. The fact that it’s not one single illness and that it is progressive, so a person’s experience in meeting someone with dementia can be a snapshot of how far along her journey she is, also confuses the understanding among the public.
If Dementia Awareness Week helps more people to know about dementia then it will be a success. The message I would want to give is this:
“with the right kind of care, even when a person has dementia,
we can make a difference to the quality of their life.”