In January, Home Instead launched its #youcancare campaign to highlight how rewarding a career as a CAREGiver can be. The message is simple: if you're a caring, kind and compassionate person then #youcancare and look after an older person.
But you might be wondering what it's like to be a CAREGiver and what the day to day role is really about. Here, we chatted to CAREGiver Ray Brown from the Norwich office, who looks after 90-year-old Richard.
My CAREGiver diary
Monday: My week starts with a visit to see Richard. Richard is 90 and a retired dentist. He’s still very independent but I’ll help him out of bed and then sort breakfast. I’ll get him a bowl of cereal, he usually wants cheerios or puff wheat, and then I’ll make him some toast with marmalade. He always has a cup of tea and a glass of fruit juice. Once we’ve had a chat and I’ve tidied up a little, I head to my next client, 84-year-old Margaret. I originally cared for Margaret’s husband Brian, who sadly died two years ago but Margaret’s mobility isn’t good and she needs some extra support so I visit her a few times a week. I know Brian wanted me to look out for her, so the fact I’m able to means a lot.
I visit Richard at lunch and again at tea time, helping with meal preparation and catching up on how he’s been throughout the day.
Tuesday: Tuesday is a shorter day, consisting of two visits to see Richard, once in the morning and once at lunch. His daughter prepares some really lovely meals for him and puts them all in the freezer, so lunch is often something she’s made and then I’ll prepare and cook some vegetables to go with it. He’s such a character, lunch normally starts with a drink of lager and he’s asking what his pudding is before he’s finished his main meal.
Wednesday: Today I repeat the same schedule as on a Monday; I see both Richard and Margaret at breakfast and then I head back to Richard’s to help at lunch and tea. Margaret is a huge Norwich City fan and Richard absolutely loves cricket, so my visits to them often involve chatting about sport. In many ways, companionship is as important as the practical help I provide, it keeps their minds active and it’s an honour to find out about their lives.
Friday: After my day off on Thursday, Friday is one of my busiest days, visiting three of my clients. The day starts with an 8.00am call to see Richard and help with his morning routine. I then visit Kurt mid-morning for an hour. Kurt is 90 and is originally from Austria. I help with light housework but I’m also there as company, someone for him to talk to. At lunchtime, it’s back to Richard’s house. Although I go to Richard’s two or three times most days, he’s incredibly independent. He enjoys life and at 90 years old, he has two tablets and a laptop, which I think is fantastic! The visits give his family some reassurance that there’s always someone popping in to see him. Friday afternoons are when I visit 96-year-old Joan for an hour. My visit is purely to offer companionship and we talk non-stop for the entire time I’m there. Her husband was an RAF pilot and she often shares stories about him, which is when she really lights up. We chat about lots of things and we’ll often have the TV on too, she likes watching quiz shows and sports. She’s as sharp as a knife, she’s very witty with a wicked sense of humour, she’s fantastic. My day ends with a tea time visit with Richard.
Saturdays and Sundays: My weekends alternate. On a Saturday, I’ll visit Richard at breakfast, Margaret mid-morning and then Richard again at lunch. On Sunday, I’ll see Margaret early morning. The next week I’ll go to see Margaret at 9.30am for an hour on both Saturday and Sunday, but I won’t visit Richard.
No matter who I go to see and what I’m there to do, the talking is the most important part of my day. The loneliness of some people surprised me the most when I started this job. Especially those who’ve recently lost husbands or wives, I see a real emptiness sometimes. That’s hard but it’s so rewarding to know that what I do really can make a difference to how they’re feeling. It’s why I do what I do, I love it.
If I can make them laugh and ensure they’re better when I’m leaving than when I arrived, then it’s job done!
If you're interesting in becoming a CAREGiver, visit www.homeinsteadjobs.co.uk