The work and dedication of care providers throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has been rightly hailed as ‘heroic’. Weekly applause acknowledged the degree to which care workers were putting their own lives on hold. They risked their health, and sacrificed the needs of their families to look after some of the most vulnerable and fragile people in our society. “Thank you to all of our carers for your fantastic work, day in, day out. You are pillars of society in the fight against coronavirus.” Boris Johnson Tweet 07.05.20
Recognising Care Givers As Our Most Precious Asset
The Work of Care Givers is Heroic – Full StopI’ve worked in care for decades now, both as a care giver, and as a manager recruiting and training carers. What I’ve learnt over those years can be summed up succinctly:
- The work of the care giver is always heroic – because it‘s transformative
- Social care gets treated like a ‘guilty’ secret – but it should be our priority as a society
- Our carers need all the support and respect we can give them
What Do Care Givers Do?Humans are hardwired to care and offer compassion. Care givers find this facility within themselves and use it to offer independence, dignity and recognition to the elderly and vulnerable. Hardwired we may be, but caring doesn’t come without a cost. Making a relationship with someone, recognising their frailty and vulnerability, changes you. You’ll never see the world the same way again. Care givers learn to look for potential, wisdom and joy in people who are suffering from degenerative conditions such as dementia. They learn to communicate in new and unexpected ways with people struggling to speak. Their daily job is to hold back judgements that suggest if you’re old, or disabled, you’re finished – and to recognise instead the contribution we all have to give at every stage of life whatever our health concerns.
Changing How Care WorksA few years ago I decided I’d had enough of being angry about the shortcomings of the care system in the UK, and thought it was time to do something about it. My concern was around the way in which ‘care roles’ were becoming more and more difficult to recruit to. And even if you did find someone willing to take on the role, they tended to move on after a few months. In my view, three things were missing from discussions around the role of the care giver:
- Job Applicants tend to see care giving as a transactional relationship whereas it's actually the opposite. A care assistant potentially gains as much from the encounter as the recipient. This isn’t however in line with the way we tend to view the elderly in the UK.
- Care Givers feel a lack of control over the work they do. Many care workers have family obligations, or another job, and being unable to determine the hours they do makes it an impossible role to fulfil. Experienced care workers also feel undervalued and underpaid.
- The clear advantages of a career in care rarely get heard in the job market. Many of the young recruits I work with are delighted to hear that they could do a degree in care, or follow a vocational career path. They’re surprised by the level of support and mentoring offered. And they’re amazed that it’s a job opening as much for men as for women.
Swarme – the New Care Movement
“All of this means that we all must engage in the critical role of reforming social care and re-defining if not re-designing the work of care.” Dr Donald Macaskill – CEO, Scottish Care
Swarme is my attempt to reform and redefine the work of care, for both the social care provider/recruiter, and the care givers/workers. The aim of Swarme is to remove the barriers to new care giver entering the profession, and to put recruiters directly in touch with care workers looking for work. Key to the Swarme online platform is a recognition that care workers often can’t commit to a standard 8 hour day. But they may very well be able to manage regular night shifts, weekend hours or slots during school hours. Care workers are also able to set their own rate, dependent on the experience they have. This recognises the value that a skilled and experienced care giver brings to service users. Intrigued? Want to know more about Swarme? Take at look at our website at swarme.co.uk, or give me a call at 0782 577 4700