Our induction training not only teaches you all you need to know to start your career as a live-in home carer, it’s also a chance to make great new friends.
I’ve tried to keep in touch, and follow the progress of those I trained with. Here are the thoughts of some on their first caring experiences.
“I finished my induction training on Friday, the 16th of January. I was expecting to start on the 28th but was called on Saturday night as emergency cover for another carer who is ill. So all very exciting but I’m also a bit nervous. My mind went blank … as if I forgot everything I had just learned! So I took the train … or I’d rather say trains and taxi to finally arrive to my client’s house. She is a lovely 99 years old lady with no major issues.
I have to say, the reality on the ground is so much different from the one taught during the induction training. Not in a bad or good way, just different. The training does not bring the emotional aspect (how can it?) of being with a client and it all appears so much different! I loved the training. The trainers we really good and attentive. The group really stood together and we got along very well. I am currently having a good experience as I hope we will all have.”
“Training was excellent – there were really nice people on the course – I am still in touch with four of them and it’s helpful to chat (we’re careful not to give any confidential details). The instructors were fabulous and gave us plenty of their time. Well, first client in Devon…lucky me. I arrived after a 5 hr. journey to meet a lovely lady with a lovely house. I was given a very good handover and felt very comfortable in being left on my own.
A lot to take in on first day – client nervous with me at first which was to be expected. Day two – routine better, client not so nervous, getting into the swing of things. Day three – no looking back, all going great, client happy with me and I am very settled. Time off and been all around Sidmouth and surrounding countryside. Lovely place, plenty to do and see. Day 13 – my last night and have been asked by client and her son to come back. Very happy about that! Will be back in two weeks so all thanks to the Christies trainers who did a good job with me.”
“We all have coping mechanisms. The ways we shut off when things get too much. This is so true for my ‘patient’, as she calls herself. I do not call her a patient or a client. To me, Mrs S, is a human being of 91 years young. Her heart is beating gold. Her body may not move as quickly as before and her mind may play games because of the onset of dementia, but in my mind and experience, she is the living soul of beauty that her family sees changing day by day.
A world apart from her past, I am her now. That’s all we have every day, every hour, every minute and every second.
The first couple of hours is testing – testing whether I will have the courage to stay when it gets hard. Two hours into our meeting we are on first name basis – something Mrs S very seldom does. Why? For me, I have no history. I do not care about repeating the same conversation 7 times in an afternoon. I even solicit a smile. I have always been cheeky – somehow Mrs S loves this. I see the twinkle in her blue eyes and no words needs exchanging – we get each other on a level deeper than words. A gift we both possess. A kindred spirit of understanding that needs no explanation.
Our early morning conversations – so vulnerable and open – create a bond that most will find hard to understand. See, when time is running out, you pick the people you have conversations with very selectively. You have learned to act asleep to avoid people you have no time for and stay awake for the conversations you so dearly need. Mrs S says everyone thinks she is confused. I do not blame her. Six months with different carers every few hours, every day coming in and out of your home. How would that make anyone feel? We develop our own language. She says she hates the word ‘comfortable’. She says she does not want to be a nuisance. I hate the word ‘nuisance’ so we create new words for comfortable and nuisance and decide these words no longer fit into our dictionary of life.
She rests her arm on the hard surface of the chair. I fear bruising. She says she is tough and will not bruise. I tell her she is a pea princess. She says not – she is ‘Her Majesty’. So now I address her as ‘Her Majesty the Pea Princess’ and put a pillow under her arm. We laugh when no one else understands what it is about. We even have a red grape for dementia joke and a clown tablet joke. She looks at me and says: “you treat me like a person, not a patient”. I tell her it is easy, because she is a person, not a patient. We laugh at her being 19, as I suffer from number dyslexia. The laughter becomes more and low and behold her mental score is higher the next time the Mind doctor comes for an assessment.
What is the difference? Being a person cared for in your own home with the stability of less change. When she says she is like a child, I say that the only true thing about elderly people becoming like children is this and this only – small children see things for what they are and they do not respond well to their surroundings and familiarities changing constantly. That creates insecurity and causes emotions to not be as rational.
We do not give up on our children, so why do we give up so easily on our elderly? I’m Looking forward to many more early morning conversations with Mrs S. Quite an emotional experience, but so rewarding. I feel really happy. It’s been a long time since having such a supportive work environment and doing something that feels like it really makes a difference.”
Three very different ladies united by a desire to do something that helps others. I’ll be checking in with them from time to time and bringing you their on-going stories.