Being a CAREGiver
So what’s it like to be a Caregiver at Home Instead Senior Care Swindon & Vale of White Horse? We asked Mary, one of our team, to tell her story….....
How did you get to become a Caregiver?
Mary: I joined Home Instead Senior Care Swindon & Vale of White Horse in February 2014. In many ways, Home Instead was the destination I had been seeking for much of my life. It was clear to me from a very young age that I wanted to care for others and I embarked on a career in nursing. I wasn't able to complete my nurse exams and qualify due to illness, Later in my life I spent time caring for a family member and I think that's where I developed my skills of both physical and emotional caring. I did follow that well-worn pattern that will be familiar to many busy mothers and carers - I had to take school roles and work to fit in around the family. But you know not becoming a nurse has gnawed away at me and been a source of regret! I became a caregiver later in life and found my niche – almost like the life experience I have been acquiring was for just this time in my life.
How do you approach being a Caregiver?
Mary: I view my age as an asset – clients feel comfortable with me as I think they know that I understand their challenges with the ageing process and I can relate to their attitudes and experiences. I think I'm a pretty good listener and I use gentle prompting to find out the ‘back story’ of a client. I try to do this in a kind and diplomatic way as I know that building strong relationships very quickly means I can deliver the very best care for my clients. I then try to use my knowledge of the client to create meaningful engagement and activities that they can share in with me. I know that John, the owner, always talks about the need for us to have a 'caregiver antenna' - knowing when to push, when to step back and when things might upset clients. I think my 'caregiver antenna' has matured over the years and is now pretty well developed! I always want to demonstrate that I am willing to empathise with those who are struggling with their condition and acceptance of a gradual journey into frailty.
What difference do you think you’ve made to your client’s life?
Mary: I know that activities and engagement that promote independence have a wider impact on the wellbeing of my clients. I did buy some art and drawing materials so that one of my clients who as dementia could show me how to draw and paint. She's an is an excellent artist - Im not so good!. But I thought "What better way to give her control, reinforce her self-esteem and we could also have a great time together if my client could take the lead and teach me to draw"? I've also spent many hours in art galleries and museums with my client so that ensuring that her passion for art and culture can live on despite her condition.
I like to keep my clients' minds her mind active and we've had some really good discussions and debates. It's the little things - the hand massages, hair styling and compliments about outfits (“that colour really suits you”) that gives my clients a sense of worth that money can't buy.
Mary: I don't really think I am that special. I just treat my clients in a way that I would want my loved one to be treated. I look beyond the ageing and frailty and see the person who has had a wonderful life. How privileged am I to be allowed to join my clients on part of their journey and help write few lines of their life story! I'd really encourage anyone - whether they've been in a caring role before or not - to get in touch with Home Instead as the Caregiver role has been one of the most rewarding things I've done in my life.
My husband, who has Alzheimer's disease, has got to know his Caregiver really well and he really looks forward to her visits.......its is lovely to have her, she is becoming a friend to us both.Mrs H, Highworth