Friday 16 March 2012

20 Years in Support Work

As most of you know I have recently returned to work as a support worker for a fabulous company called Complete Choice Care. Much to my manager's annoyance I do still tend to use the term carer, as I like it, so do tell me off if I use it!

I first started in care work at the age of 15. It's amazing how many changes I have seen in this time. I started by volunteering at a care home in Hobart. The things I used to do make my toes curl now. I used to assist with mealtimes - that is, feed elderly people who were unable to feed themselves. No training, no insurance. I helped people with toileting, took them out for strolls in the local neighbourhood. I doubt very much that would be allowed now.

When at university studying for a degree in business, I kept my hand in, doing work for Headway with people with acquired brain injury and being an advocate for Ctizen's Advocacy, which I really enjoyed. The advocacy work was tough, and gave me a good understanding of the issues facing people with disabilities in wanting to live independently and having the freedom to make their own choices.

When I was doing advocacy work, many of the people I was helping had come out of institutions, and I am pleased to see, that during my career, we've seen the vast majority of these places closed, and care standards have greatly improved. I am proud to have been part of that process.

I do think though, that sometimes, regulation goes too far. I am now not permitted to cut toenails or fingernails. Imagine the frustration, you are dressing someone, notice their fingernails are catching on their clothes, and can't trim them. One of my Twitter friends Daniel made the valid point that whilst a podiatrist cuts toenails, they are not permitted to do fingernails, and hasn't worked out who should be doing these.

Most changes I have seen are definitely for the better. When I first started working in the field in the early nineties, we physically lifted folk. I recall when the hoists were first brought in, they were used to dry towels on, people were very resistant to change. As a young support worker I was keen to learn, and I loved learning to use the different equipment.

I recall one house I worked at, with three gentleman, we had an enormous drug cupboard full of tablets, including anti seizure medications. It used to take ages to dispense medication, and whilst we were always meticulous, it often worried me how easy it would be to make an error. This area has undergone a great deal of change, and for the better.

The biggest change I have seen is in training. I go on training regularly to ensure my practice is up to date. My managers are always available to help me and provide guidance. We have regular observations and assessments. What upsets me is that society still doesn't value what we do, by and large. I think there is little community understanding of just what we do, it's far more than just dressing people and making cups of tea. Of course befriending and general care work is important, but our standards of record keeping, duty of care and protecting people are higher than ever.

I am so proud to work for Complete Choice Care. They are family oriented, care about each member of staff and service user as an individual, and have recently obtained Investors in People Gold accreditation, which for a new company is just fantastic!

I'd highly recommend a career as a carer, the rewards are fantastic, and I have had some fantastic experiences and met people I never would have done otherwise! 

1 comment:

  1. Great information! I love your blog! You always post interesting things!