Home Instead Senior Care The Queen's Awards for Enterprise: Innovation 2016
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Being a CAREGiver

When I was a little girl, there were two games I liked to role play. Performing my own shows, dressing up, acting and playing nurses. Caring for all my dolls and teddies, inspired by my own mum who was a carer, visiting the elderly at home, looking after them. It was the one job my mum had where she came alive and had a real sense of purpose about her. I went on to pursue the first dream, treading the boards, which took me all the way to Scarborough where I gained a HND in Theatre. I worked in a large theatre there, I met some incredible people during that time. A lot of the customers were elderly, and part of our job was to spend time talking to them, discussing the play, the theatre, the history and Scarborough itself. This is what I loved most about the job. Some people were on their own, and giving ten minutes of your time to discuss whatever they wanted to discuss would mean everything to them. 


I had a family very young, and after moving away from Scarborough back to my home county of Leicestershire, I fell into any work that would fit in and pay the bills. I'd lost a little identity, so my thoughts of what I actually wanted to do were put aside. I did a voluntary job of offering museum tours around an historic house, and found that reward buzz id missed so much. Making someones day by wanting to chat and offer conversation, or most importantly, to just listen. 


Then at the beginning of 2017, I went to visit my Grandma. I had a very close relationship with her, We'd chat, eat food together, I'd take her shopping. We lost my Grandad in 2010 , he suffered with Parkinsons and my Grandma had been caring for him. When he passed, my Grandma was at a loss. She'd lost her greatest companion, her sparring partner, her sense of purpose, the reason she'd get up early, the reason she'd constantly make mash potato. Everything, was suddenly empty. Loneliness can be one of the hardest things, and its just not always possible for families to be there all the time. Like we did, we lived away now. Getting over every week just was not enough for her, a day without seeing someone was soul destroying to her, and long and sad. These were the reasons why we thought she would benefit from a Carer. So she was able to stay at home, remain independent but have some assistance and companionship, and as a family, we had reassurance that she was being checked every day, eating and taking her medication. Grandma was very reluctant about all this. She was a fiercely independent, very proud and as family we would describe her as stubborn. She didn't trust very easily too, and did not like the idea of someone coming into her home. But it worked out. She struck up a relationship with her carer and we saw a spark back in her eyes and suddenly she was booking in someone to do her hair, give her a pedicure and was attending a once a week luncheon club. She remained at her beloved home and very suddenly passed there peacefully. The house she made a home by raising her children, her grandchildren and then her great grandchildren. I was utterly devastated. That visit I took, was my last, we'd had a very significant conversation ( I swear she knew in her heart it was the last) about how she'd love me to find something that would make me come alive again, where i could study and grow and start doing theatre again. At the time, you'd probably roll your eyes and sigh, but you knew she was right! And after losing her it became even more apparent.


A month after her death I ran a 20 mile race I'd been training for, for her beloved charity the RNLI and raised £700. Four months later I gave in my notice to my current job, ready to follow my heart. I wanted a job where I'd make a difference to peoples lives, where id be rewarded just for using my own caring nature. Where i could meet lots of different people and take on some new and exciting challenges. I researched a lot into care work, and heard so many stories. Generally very similar. People who had loved working with their clients and found it so rewarding, but did not get on with the company or manager or where rushed by only having fifteen minute calls, or where having to work with other carers who were doing anything other than actually caring. The I found  the advert for Home Instead and straight away it struck me as different. I researched the company and loved the Ethos, a companionship led care company, Caregivers minimum call time is an hour, encouraged to drink tea, chat and build a relationship not just complete a check list of jobs. The phone call I had with the lovely Charlotte straight away made me feel this is the company for me and after going to the office for an interview, I knew this would be the start of my new career change.


I'm now a CareGiver for Home Instead and have never felt so happy, fulfilled and rewarded. I have to pinch myself that this is actually a job sometimes. I'll be completely honest and say yes of course I was daunted and nervous when i first started with my very first clients, but I was looked after in every step. I was introduced to each client, I was offered constant support, I have an outstanding Care coordinator who is always at the end of a phone and will text you to make sure you're home ok and that you're happy and any concerns you can talk about. The team work incredibly hard to support not just their clients, but their staff and truly value you.  After my first few weeks, I remember sat around the kitchen table with my client. We were peeling apples together and making a crumble. We were chatting and laughing and I looked at her and she was so happy and said how much she was enjoying this, its so much more fun baking with someone. And i thought, yes I am too and was smiling just as much.


Some people say to me how they'd love to do that and that they would enjoy the nice bits, but 'I couldn't do it as a job, I just don't think I could do it'. And my answer, all you have to do is care, the rest takes care of itself. When you walk through that door and see such a smiling face, happy to see you arrive, or a touch of a hand of appreciation, or making someone laugh, or being there to support tears, or listen to their incredible stories , look through old photographs hearing of a rich life of what that client led, being told how much they love your company and when will you be back. Talking about shared passions of the Theatre, history, baking and with one client, Golf GTI's! It really is then the best job in the world, well more than a job, one i'm learning something new everyday, one where i'm growing more confident as a person and one where every call I make has just assisted a person in their life and made everything a little better.        


  • UKHCA Registered

"May I say that it's really nice to know that we are welcome to pop into the office spontaneously for a cuppa and chat if/when passing.

I don't use Facebook but would like to express that my experience's with Home Instead Charnwood have been so positive, professional and welcoming. It makes a real difference when representing a company that as CAREGivers we feel supported and that staff have the same or similar values. I'm sure that the business will continue to go from strength to strength."

Sally-Ann Freer - CAREGiver