More Than a Job
by Shaniah Adler
I have only worked in care for a year, which may not seem like a long time to some people but during this time I have learned so much. It is very clear to me that care work is more than just a job.
I started working in care during the pandemic, as I knew that homes needed staff and I had nothing else to do. However, I did not imagine myself loving the job as much as I do now. The bond that you make with the individuals you support and your colleagues is something that cannot be described.
Through lockdown, everyone had to stay at home so the only two places I was travelling to was between work and home. This meant that I was spending five days a week with the residents and my colleagues and then going home to just my one housemate. This meant I quickly developed my work relationships and learned what I needed to know about the job and the individuals I would be caring for.
Although starting the job in lockdown had some benefits, there were many challenges such as the residents not being able to take part in their favourite activities and the constant anxiety of Covid 19 coming into the home.
The home that I work at has been fortunate not to have a big outbreak; however, we did have a few cases. Seeing everyone you work with so worried was bad but seeing residents you care about so poorly and confused was the worst part.
Supporting individuals in full PPE for long shifts obviously has an affect on your physical wellbeing but it’s the mental side that I think people don’t appreciate. The constant anxiety about whether people will be okay, the fear of catching and spreading the virus, the constant uncertainty.
During the height of the pandemic, I worked overtime shifts because I was lucky enough to not catch the virus and I wanted to be a familiar face to the residents so that they were not alone with unfamiliar agency staff when they were poorly. Even though I was working more than normal, the anxiety about the residents would continue when I was at home; the constant worry about whether they were okay. This is partly what I mean when I say that it’s more than a job. The residents become people that you think about every day without meaning to.
All you want to do is help
I don’t think many people understand the importance of care work. A lot of the work is brushed over instead of giving people the praise that they deserve. Even without a pandemic, care work brings many challenges.
Before starting this job, I had never supported anyone with challenging behaviour and I don’t think I had ever even witnessed it so it was a real shock to see people injuring themselves or others. I have since experienced this many times as a few of the residents I support have challenging behaviour. This comes with many physical demands and the obvious risk of injury but the emotional demands of challenging behaviour are often not discussed. Seeing individuals that you care for really upset, having self-injurious behaviour and in pain is hard to watch because all you want to do is help them.
Caring through Christmas
I grew up in a small town in South Wales and moved to Birmingham for university. I love Birmingham and I love the independence of living alone. The change between living in a small town to working in Birmingham is huge and it definitely opened up my eyes to the world a lot more.
Although I enjoy living away from home, something that I did not think about when getting this job was the holiday period. Last Christmas I worked Christmas Day and Boxing Day and it was the first time ever that I had not spent Christmas with my family. I did have fun with the residents and it was nice to help them celebrate with people who are familiar to them.
I think the image of carers compared to the reality is so different. The tasks and activities that carers have to do is so much more than people realise. I feel absolutely honoured to be a carer and I love doing my job. It is so rewarding and you genuinely feel as though you are making people’s lives better.