A day in the life of a carer – my first week

Care work is not straight forward; it’s not a job that anyone can do. It’s a job that requires a lot of strength, patience and in some cases, a strong stomach. Being a carer is never easy, but this career choice can be one of the most rewarding things a person can experience.

I’ve worked in care. I’ve worked in a lot of places, but one of the most challenging career moves I made was my short time in a care home. I spent 10 months in a supported living environment where I helped support people with dementia, cancer, learning difficulties, acquired brain injuries and helping them live their lives to the full. In a care environment, it’s impossible not to get attached to the people you see every day.

My first day, like new jobs, I was a nervous wreck. A completely new venture for me, and I had no idea what to expect. I’ve had family in the care industry for years, but we never spoke about what it is they did – I held the mentality that it was cleaning up after old people all day. How very wrong I was. Although I had no idea what to expect, I went in with the highest expectations that I could make a success of this new role life had thrown my way.

I was introduced to the care team I was going to be working with. A lively bunch that cared about the residents in their own way, as we all do. I was then introduced to the residents and their care plans. I was not prepared for their care plans, although useful to read them on your first day is highly overwhelming.

I remember my first shift above all those other days; I did a 7-3 and was paired with a support worker who had been with the company for two or so years. I listened to everything she said and those eight hours flew by, but the amount of information I was given was very overwhelming and impossible to take in on the first shift. I asked a lot of questions in the coming days and honestly, I was scared to talk to the residents and apprehensive towards them until I got the hang of caring.

Did I improve by the end of my first week? I started remembering the way specific residents liked to be cared for, how they liked to be spoken to and how to calm them down when they became overwhelmed. One resident wanted to be woken up first, before all other residents, and we used to sing to him every day, from Mary Poppins to nursery rhymes – it made him happy and he loved a good old cup of tea once he was dressed. Another resident stayed in bed until 11am and then insisted on a bath because for him, it was the most relaxing time of day for him.

It goes without saying that I didn’t come across some hurdles in my first week. I realised the cracks in the team dynamic and I noticed the amount of stress the senior carer was under and little to no support from the management team when things went downhill. No day in a care home – even supported living – is the same. No two people are the same, which is exactly what I found out. The most important lesson I learnt, you might ask? A care home doesn’t run without a tight team.

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