My take on being a Live-in Carer – Bridget
Ladies, gentlemen and everyone in between, let me tell you a story about live in care. Way back when, in the ancient times of 2014, as I discussed my up and coming travel plans over an assortment of tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, food to sustain our extended family all for a year and the odd child screaming, my Aunty Jen awakened me to the world of live in care. Yes that’s right. About 22yrs ago, to fund her travels, Jen worked in a job where you get paid (obviously), pretty darn well to live (bills what’s that? Free food, say waaa!), all while lending a helping hand. Wow! I know right? It gets better. While Jen had nursing qualifications, she knew people working for the same company who had no such thing! Say waaaa? No nursing qualifications needed!? But wait, there’s more! Forget the restriction of a yearly or even 6-month contract. With notice, she had the flexibility to travel when and if she pleased. Mind BLOWWWN! Free board, free food as well as flexibility in terms of being able to save quickly, pursue my travel ambitions and repeat, sign me up!
Long story short and a phone call later, turns out this company require people with nursing qualifications these days… who would have thought? Never fear, after three months travelling, as the savings were looking a little sad, I headed back to the UK to begin the job hunt. Most of which involved productively procrastinating on Facebook, by the power vested in newsfeed, a post for live-in carers with no experience required appeared! Thank you Facebook Gods or shall I say ‘Aussies in London’ (you should check out this page as well as ‘Kiwis in London’ for news, tips, advice, events around London…you’re welcome). The stars had aligned and next thing you know, an email, application, quick interview, new friends, a weeks paid accommodation and training course later, I had a job!
So here you have a 22-year-old gal from down under with zero experience or knowledge of live in care, why did this rookie decide to give it a go? Let me put it this way. Yes I am here to travel and being able to encounter many wonders of the world has been amazing. However among the grand structures, natural beauties and abundance of delicious delicacies, the more I travel the more I realise it isn’t so much about the places you go but the people you meet along the way. Of course free board/food, a competitive wage and flexibility in terms of being able to travel all appealed, but for me, the very notion of helping and learning from people caught my attention. I have done your standard bar/ restaurant work before, so I thought why not try something different with ENA. It felt great entering a workplace that holds the best interest of people at heart. A company who is committed to providing quality, flexible and reliable care, who genuinely and passionately promote independence and whose philosophy lies in treating people with dignity and respect.
Admittedly however, challenges were faced. There were times things went wrong, times rough days left me questioning whether or not I was up to it all. Why am I here promoting the company and this job then? Because despite the initial fear or hesitation I felt before or during my time as a live-in carer, despite mistakes made and patience tested, just like any job, good and bad days, the highs prevailed the lows. These people I worked with, intentional or not, helped me as much as I helped them. People, just like you and I, whose bodies happen to function differently to the way ours might. They have a brain, they have opinions and favourite television shows. Perhaps just like you they music tastes, love sleep ins, have friends, pets, annoying little brothers, protective big sisters, or vice versa? They have degrees, qualifications, awards, titles, partners. Some are tightass’s, smartass’s, badass’s, I could go on. Point being is they are human and deserve to be treated the way you would like to be treated. If you go into the job with this mind frame, then the rest will fall into place. And if in doubt, ask about. To ENA staff, your client, family, friends, Google… If you aren’t asking questions then you’re doing it wrong.
Whether you think it is a stupid question or not, questions show you care and are willing to learn. Another tip, make friends in training, they are going to be one of your biggest supporters to fall back on for advice and the occasional vent.
If you are still awake at this stage or, unlike me, have an attention span more then a couple of sentences, firstly, teach me yours ways, but secondly, trust me when I say if you are a genuine, down to earth, and open minded kinda person, then you have all the tools you need. Begin with being you and you are on your way to positively contributing to someone’s life, perhaps even developing a meaningful companionship and experience you can both look back on. So why not walk, wheel, limp, by all means cart wheel into someone else’s shoes for a few months. Take it from me, that 22yr old gal from down under with zero experience or knowledge before entering into this job, one of the best feelings in the world is helping others and knowing you made a difference (however small or large). It’s one tough gig, but an amazing, worthwhile one at that.