Life from the frontline as a home carer
"My customers are my top priority, and I am ensuring that they are safe and have everything they need"
My name is Deanna I work for Bluebird Care and have done for just over two and a half years. I really enjoy working for the company and the job is extremely rewarding. I started with Bluebird Care at the age of nineteen with no experience of working in care, since then I have progressed using the career pathway that they have in place. I was born and raised locally in Basingstoke and live with my Nan and Grandad. We are a very close family, which has made it hard during this time, as I am in the same position as everybody else and can't see my mum or my sister every week as we normally do. Since joining Bluebird Care I could not imagine working in a different industry, I feel valued as an employee and as a company everyone is so supportive. The company has also been asked by the NHS to form a special team to help prevent individuals going into hospital, which has really taken off.
My day to day experiences have altered with the current pandemic, as I am sure you are all aware due to the lockdown – it’s a lifestyle we are all having to adapt to. I wanted to share some of my experiences of life as a frontline worker and the challenges Covid 19 has brought with it.
As a care assistant I start work from seven o’clock in the morning till five in the evening which is my normal everyday shift. Since the start of the pandemic, I am having to take extra precautions to ensure that not only my customers are safe but also my Nan and Grandad. In the morning before work I ensure that my grandparents have all they need and make sure that I have set up my ‘wash station’ for after work. I leave a change of clothes a clean flannel and towel every day in the utility room. I have also been keeping supplies of kitchen roll, toilet roll and hand soap in my car to ensure that customers have this for both them and other care assistants. Driving to my first call in the morning I normally listen to the news or updates however recently I have found it hard to listen to as I know that it could possibly have an affect on my work life. During the day I complete tasks such as, medication, personal care, moving and positioning, food and fluid preparation; the list goes on. Every one of our customers is different, with different levels of care required therefore I ensure that I am completing all tasks in an individually person-centred way to them.
The popular question from customers during this time is ‘Any signs of it being over?’ Or ‘has lockdown been lifted yet?’ The current pandemic has affected our customers as they are worried about their health, their families and us as care assistants. I try to ensure that I am as positive as I can be and try my absolute best to ensure I am leaving every customer with a smile. It’s hard to hear some of our customers’ thoughts on how they are feeling/felt and not being able to say to them it will be over, as we know just as much as they do. I think the virus has made us all worry about work even if we do not show it. My customers are my top priority, and I am ensuring that they are safe and have everything they need. As care assistants we have all been following strict procedures with PPE and hand washing. During each call I am washing my hands over five times and always changing my gloves and aprons to prevent cross contamination. I have been taking extra uniforms in my car to change through the day and have a green bag to keep my used uniform separate.
We have some customers who are on the shielding program, we are wearing masks during these calls. Bluebird ensured that we all knew how to put on and dispose of our masks correctly in accordance with the Government guidelines. With these customers I have been ensuring that I keep my distance when I can as well as changing my uniform before going into their house. For these customers it is worrying, I make sure that I am providing as much reassurance as I can, in the time I am with them.
Throughout the day I see a variety of customers with different needs and during this time some of those needs have increased. I think it’s hard for our customers as a lot of them are isolating on their own. One of our customers normally has a shopping call where we go with her to Morrison’s to do the shopping and take her for lunch after. Due to the virus we can no longer do this, so we have been doing the shopping ourselves. This has been upsetting for our customer as shopping with us is something she always looks forward to. I think sometimes people take these little things for granted and sometimes do not realise how much the small things matter. When completing this shopping visit our customer had mentioned how she really fancied some chocolate, so I made sure I got her chocolate which she was really happy with.
Another one of our customers celebrated their 90th birthday over the weekend, to brighten her day I took her some flowers and balloon from Bluebird Care. On her birthday it was lovely to hear that when the care assistant was there a few of her neighbours sang to her whilst social distancing of course! They also praised Bluebird Care for all our hard work.
After work to ensure my Nan and Grandad are safe I am letting them know when I am on my way home so they are inside the house with our dog Nala. This then enables me to be able to go through the garage without coming in contact with them. I am having a wash in the utility room and putting my uniforms straight onto a hot wash along with my flannel and towel that I have used. I am then sitting in the garage area for a little while just to wind down from the day as I know my Nan and Grandad worry especially with everything that is going on. I think it’s hard on them as well, as they can see how tired I am and they know that I put my all into my work and to help others around me. To cheer my Nan and Grandad up we had a film night, they were given tickets to the screening as you would normally get in a cinema and made a pop up snack stall in our living room. I think during this time it is so important to try and take the positives out of the situation like spending time for ourselves and those we live with. Hearing the clap for carers every week has really kept me motivated. The support we have received really makes me feel like I’m doing a good thing and keeps me going in such a hard time. One day when I was getting my petrol and went to pay a lady in the queue in front of me had bought me a coffee and a chocolate bar to say thank you, which made me extremely emotional knowing that my work is appreciated. I am grateful to have such a strong support network around me with my family and with everyone at Bluebird Care. We all received presents at Easter from work to say “Thank you” as well as donations from other companies which really put a smile on everyone’s faces. I love my job and no matter how challenging Covid 19 will make it I will continue doing what I love and making sure my customers receive the care they need. As that is what care assistants do, we CARE for others.