It is well documented that the UK is on the brink of a Social Care crisis. There is a lack of healthcare workers and nurses wanting to work in residential settings, with people seeming to favour the acute hospital environment.
Sharon Allen, chief executive of Skills for Care, the employer-led workforce development body for adult social care in England, agrees that recruitment and retention is “the number one issue for the sector”.
There are 60,000 vacancies in adult social care on any one day.
Contrary to the popular belief that this type of job is not rewarding and job satisfaction is low, I would like to talk about why I loved working in a care home.
Why I Loved Working in a Care Home
I worked as a Carer, a Registered Nurse and Home Manager in a busy nursing and residential home for many years. The main reason I loved working in a care home was that the residents became our extended family.
Some of our residents had lived in the home for years and with that, we were able to get to know people really well. Some residents did not have loved ones or even visitors, and as staff we filled that role.
I enjoyed coming to work to see familiar faces and had a genuine bond with our residents; working in a hospital with a fast turnover of patients makes it difficult to get to know people as well.
Furthermore, I used to enjoy building a relationship with the families of our residents too.
I understand how hard it is for them to leave their loved ones in our care. Knowing that family members trusted us to look after them made us feel valued and appreciated.
Special Occasions with our Residents
Working in a care home is very sociable. We are effectively working in people’s homes and it is important to ensure that we maintain a homely feel that is less formal than that of acute environments.
Care home staff are able to share special occasions such as Birthdays and Christmas with their residents and make these events meaningful.
I can recall many Christmas mornings when we would sit with the residents in the day room and open presents together in the same way that families sit together and open gifts.
We cared for one lady who had lived with us for many years who did not have any family. Several of the staff members used to buy her a gift so that she had presents to open on Christmas morning.
I can recall many trips and events I was involved in at the Care Home. Some of the favourites being a trip to the Zoo, going to Blackpool Illuminations and the Christmas Church services.
Critical Clinical Skills Required
Older people often have a range of medical conditions. Working in a care home means that staff need to have excellent clinical skills to be able to look after people with frequently complex care needs.
Many older people do not want to go into hospital and want to stay in the care home for their treatment. This dispels the myth that care home nurses lose their clinical skills. I believe that they need them more than ever.
Finally, working in a care home means that sadly sometimes we have to say goodbye to our residents. Having looked after somebody whether for a short time or a long time makes it hard for staff when a resident passes away. When someone is dying, I consider it a privilege to be able to sit and hold their hand and support them and their loved ones through such a difficult time in their lives.
For all of these reasons, I found working in a care home to be the most rewarding role I have had.
It can be tough. There are many pressures facing social care, but if you can go to work and make a difference to your resident’s lives there is nothing more rewarding than that.
Written by Claire Bailey, Registered Nurse and Clinical Operations Manager at AutumnCare.