Celebrating Carers Week: A day in the life of a carer
By: Philippa Harrington, On: 08 June 2020
Carers are key to the fabric of British society. While care work is often described as the best job available for someone who finds lots of meaning in the act of helping others, it comes with its own unique set of challenges. To celebrate Carers Week, our blog explores a day in the life of a carer and looks at what different challenges they face.
A carer’s day
No two days in the life of an individual carer are ever the same, but there are some similarities across the sector.
Depending on the shift being undertaken, a carer is likely to start or end their day with personal care. This could relate to helping the service user get ready for bed, or it could involve washing or support with toilet visits.
Some carers may be involved in the preparation or delivery of meals, which offers some structure to the day and means that there may well be busy spells at lunchtime or in the early evening. And across the day, carers will also often provide stimulation and companionship to help their service users feel safe. This can take many forms, but it’s not uncommon for carers to spend some time over a mid-morning coffee or a mid-afternoon snack simply chatting to their service users and ensuring that all is well.
Carers may also have to take some time to keep notes on their service users’ condition or spend time flagging any concerns to a manager – so it’s certainly a responsible job.
Challenges of the job
While many people find care work a rewarding profession in lots of ways, few would deny that it is a real challenge at times.
The first challenge is the context of the care sector in the UK. In recent years, it has been plagued by funding cuts: in fact, data from recent years have suggested that while the demand for social care has gone up by several percentage points, the number of people who actually get given systematic care services has gone down. Both employers and employees in the care sector now report feeling busier, more stressed and more worried as they work to ensure that all service users receive the care they need in an increasingly pressing financial environment.
And care work can also be difficult because of day to day issues. Providing care to people who are unwell can be emotionally draining, especially in the context of care settings in which service users may pass away. This is especially true in the context of the current coronavirus pandemic, during which many carers are finding that they are helping unwell people who are also isolated or unable to see their loved ones.
That rewarding feeling
But while there are many challenges associated with being a carer, many carers also report that it is one of the most rewarding jobs they could pick. It’s rewarding first and foremost because it allows people to look after others, and to assist in making someone’s life better at a time when they may be unwell, infirm, or simply need a helping hand. To see a service user feel happy and comfortable is one of the main goals of a carer and something that puts a smile on the faces of many carers every single day.
Many service users are full of interesting stories about the past. Older people are perhaps over-represented among the service users of those receiving care, which means that carers often find themselves regaled with tales of years gone by. Not only are these interesting historical insights for carers to hear, but they are also an opportunity for the carer to help the service user be stimulated.
The role of a carer is rewarding also because it is practical. For many carers, part of the appeal of the job is either travelling from place to place and visiting a range of people or simply moving around different wards or floors in a care home. This means that care work is free from the downsides of many other jobs, such as spending all day in an office cubicle or working in an environment focused on screens and desks.
While no two experiences of being a carer are the same, there are many common reasons why carers love their work even despite the challenges that they can face. On this Carers Week, we’re proud to stand with carers and care providers and say a huge “thank you” to them for everything they do.