This week, we offer you an insight into care home jobs with a diary entry from a care home worker. We spoke with Jane, a care home worker from Wales who works in Buckinghamshire, to find out what life is like out there on the front line. This diary entry relates to a day in early December 2021 whilst concerns about COVID-19 were very prevalent.
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A day in the life: Care Home Worker Jobs
First thing in the morning
I start the morning with some gentle stretching and listen to the radio. The Beatles are playing. “I read the news today, oh boy..” sings John Lennon. The news is quite troubling at the moment, isn’t it? Are care homes safe this time around? Are we doing everything we can to protect those in our care? The kettle boils while the lateral flow test lies in wait. I still look forward to the day ahead, confident in the knowledge that I’m taking every precaution to keep myself and those in my care safe.
I glance down to see a single red line. Great! All clear to head into work today.
Start of the day
I remind myself that my work is so valuable and that my intention is to keep our residents safe and smiling. To see that smile returned, especially at this difficult time, is so very rewarding.
Upon arriving at the care home, I run through the team diary as a reminder of the activities for today. That’s after submitting my negative COVID-19 test and carefully washing my hands of course. We are planning on having some carol singers perform for the residents later in the week, and I see a reminder that the risk assessment needs to be completed for that to go ahead.
I check in with my team to hear how the overnight shift was. George had difficulty sleeping again but apart from that, all OK. This is good news, as today is going to be busy. On the agenda we have a zoom catch up with the wellbeing team, the hairdresser is coming in the afternoon and I need to sort shift cover for the weeks leading up to Christmas. I’ll also need to assist care worker Barry with the residents’ medication audit.
Breakfast and Morning Activities
One of the most important parts of the day, and one of my favourites – assisting the residents at breakfast time. Today, most are up and ready without too much trouble. And so, I take the opportunity to have a chat with Bryn, 84, who has been at the care home for just two months. We have found him to be quite reserved so far, and he has recently been diagnosed with dementia. When he does communicate, he speaks mostly in Welsh. Being from Cardiff myself, I’m the only care home worker who can fully understand him.
Getting Bryn to open up with the staff and other residents has become a mini-project of mine. My Welsh is a little rusty though! Still, when I asked how Bryn was (in Welsh, ‘sut wyt ti, Bryn?’), a hint of a smile appeared on his face and he told me that he was worried about his relatives being able to visit him due to the pandemic.
I will have to work on my welsh as there were some words I couldn’t quite understand, however, being able to communicate with Bryn about his emotions was fantastic. He visibly relaxed after being able to share his concerns. Listening to Bryn, I felt the familiar mixture of sadness and warmth. I felt sorry for his situation but was delighted he’d felt he could open up. I let him know that if he ever needs to talk, I’m always here.
Our first activity of the day starts at 10:30. We bring out jigsaws, word puzzles, painting equipment and a selection of model making kits to encourage the residents to engage in some problem-solving. As I move between the games room and the kitchen, clearing up breakfast, I catch Brynn completing a word search, lost in thought. I make a mental note to see how he feels about technology, in the hope that we could set him up with a video call with his relatives.
So, so busy. I’m always up and about on my feet throughout this part of the day. It’s the same old story in all of the care home jobs I’ve had over the years. Today includes delivering a package to George who is staying in his room today, setting up a zoom call with Mrs Williamson and her grandchildren, taking the orders for lunch and delivering to the kitchen, stocking up the anti-back gel dispensers, and preparing the medication for administering.
Amidst all this, it’s those little moments – Mrs Williamson’s beaming face when the connection finally works and George’s brief nod of appreciation – that continues to remind me that it’s all worthwhile.
I’m on the rota to bring round the medication trolley room to room. All the residents tend to be having an afternoon nap, or reading quietly around this time. I check each one off against my list as I go. Some of the residents get restless and frustrated around this time of day, and being visited with a cupful of pills to take can be quite triggering. Therefore, a friendly and warm approach is extra important.
Entering George’s room I smile and say “I haven’t seen you out of your room much recently George, are you OK?” I was quite taken aback by his matter of fact response, “Not so good, Jane, my brother passed away the other day and I won’t see him again now.”
For a brief moment, I was unsure how to react. George wasn’t keen on hugs or big displays of emotion. I moved to sit beside him in his chair and put my hand on his shoulder. “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that George. Would you like to talk about it?”
George stared at his fingernails for a while before silently nodding.
For over an hour (after getting Barry to finish delivering the mediation for me) I chatted with George about how he had heard about his brother’s passing the week before by telephone and had not yet told anyone else in the care home. He shared memories with me about their childhood and Christmas holidays they’d enjoyed together in the 60s.
I left George’s room letting him know we were all there for him. I shared this news with my team and had a chat with his daughter over the phone. We’ll keep an extra eye on George and give him more opportunities to talk during his bereavement.
End of the day
My emotional state today was a little more drained than usual, but in a good way. It always amazes me how much we take for granted when we are working and young and healthy enough to take care of ourselves. I’m able to plan my days off, make Christmas plans and see my friends when I can. For Brynn and George and our other residents, every day they have to put their trust in us.
On my drive home, I reflect on the conversations I had with residents today. I think about activities we could plan for future weeks that may enable them to find some comfort in their situations. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years now. I no longer view them as care home jobs; this is work that gives me the opportunity to give back and support the people in society who need it most.
Thank you for reading our post on care home jobs.
We hoped you enjoyed our post offering an insight into the joys and challenges involved in care home jobs… If you are interested in new care home jobs have a browse of our latest vacancies.