So I currently work as night care lead in a residential care home. We look after residents with differing care needs, ranging from advanced dementia to broken hips. Now a lot of people see my job as glorified ass wiping, and being paid to sit and drink cups of tea with the old folk. This is far from the case and an insult to the industry. My job specification is fairly simple, not taking into account all aspects of the role that go unwritten, so I want the world to see what we actually do as carers.
We are the first people our residents see when they wake and the last person before they go to sleep. Throughout day and night are job is to ensure their safety, well-being and comfort. So what does this entail? A lot of people ask me what we REALLY do during the night because surely all our residents are asleep, well heres my answer:
- Trained staff members administer medication. The medication crucial for keeping each resident well. Some refuse as they are unaware they require medication for their dementia that they don’t quite understand. We sit with them, reassure them, explain the importance of taking their medication. We persist with whichever story that allows that resident to take their prescribed medication confidently.
- We offer drinks and food, having to remember many orders. We remember exactly how all of you like your tea and coffee, and remember who’s got allergies to certain foods, or who’s diabetic.
- We take you to the toilet, we reassure you and talk you through what we are doing to help those that aren’t able to undress and mobilise by themselves. We listen and talk to you to make you feel more comfortable about having to be undressed and go to the toilet in front of someone you may not recognise, or at times when you may not understand.
- We hold your hand at times when life, illness or confusion overtake happiness. We reassure you when you don’t understand why you’ve been ‘locked up’. We reassure you that your family members know where you are. We hold the bucket to vomit into when you’re feeling sick. We hold your hand when a love one is unwell or your partner of 70 years has just passed away. We offer a hug when your family members go home to sleep and you feel lonely and confused.
- We assist you into bed, making sure you are comfortable and doing everything we can to make you happy, settled and cosy before sleep.
- We run to every buzzer that alerts us you need assistance. We assist with any task given to us. We make sure you are happy with our work. We assist those night wanderers back to bed who believe that night time is day time. We gain your trust so you have faith in our reassurance.
- We support your families who call to see how you are. We offer them reassurance and tell them truthfully about your day. We answer every call whether we are busy or not, we stop what we are doing to spend time with your loved ones so we get to know all about your life before coming into our home.
- We call the doctors, ambulances or advice services when you are in pain or unwell. We call the district nurses when you are having problems with your catheter. We call the ambulance when you are having chest pains. We stay with you, reassuring you, holding your hand until help arrives.
- We give you as much independence as we can. We are patient to allow you to wash yourself if you can, even if that takes longer than us doing it. We encourage you to be you. We enjoy learning all about your life, your experiences and stories. We know everything we possibly can about you and could handover to other medical professionals all of your medical history and how you present normally. We read and rewrite your care plans to adapt to any changes.
- We build a rapport, you become our family like we do you. We spend time talking, laughing, singing, dancing, crying. We go through every emotion with you.
- We take the physical violence when we know you are scared, anxious, confused or angry. Or when you have something to say but don’t know how to say it. We take being spat at, punched and kicked etc because we see past your dementia or your illness. We see the person behind this behaviour. We become detectives to try and establish how we can help. We reassure you, we stay calm. We think of all possible causes e.g infection, in pain, hungry.
- We love you as if you were family. We care, we want to help you, we want you to be settled. We want to make a difference to your lives.
So if you know anyone who is carer or works in the care industry, give them a break for feeling exhausted, ask them about their day. The responsibility of being a carer is a lot higher than others realise. I love my job, its the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.