I originally qualified as a childcare practitioner in Ireland which I did for 6 or 7 years and then I decided to move to England. I worked in assisted living for 6 months before coming to QEF in June 2020. I love the residents here, you can’t top the residents – literally they are just the best. The banter you can have with them is brilliant.
I work with a group of 9 residents on the first floor at Dorincourt. We work in teams of 2 and each day we are allocated 3 people to care for, so we get to know the residents really well.
The mornings are about getting residents up and giving them the support they need and want. Do they want the radio turned on? Do they want their hair washed? Do they want a cup of tea – one lady really wouldn’t be happy with me if she didn’t have her cup of tea each morning. We work as a team of two focusing on 1 resident each, but helping each other with any lifting and transfers. It takes between an 1– 1.5 hours to get each person ready and then we take them downstairs for breakfast. Then we help the 3rd resident together. Breakfast is anywhere between 8.30 and 10 depending on how long the morning routines take.
Sometimes we help residents eat breakfast if they need it and after breakfast we will help out with any personal care needs, such as maybe brushing teeth if that is the way the resident prefers it. We can get involved in activities before lunch and then we take our allocated resident to lunch, organising their cutlery and where they want to sit.
I do five shifts a week which run either from 7.15am -2.45pm or 2.30pm – 10pm and then I also choose to do two extra overtime shifts, creating 2 long days from 7.15 -10pm. The 5 single shifts are given to me a week in advance – I can’t choose those - and then I add my overtime shifts.
In assisted living you have to cook and clean, so alot of time is taken up with those kind of tasks, whereas here you do have to generally tidy up, but you don’t have all those extra tasks, so you get to spend a lot more time with the residents. A couple of them love watching Tipping Point, but they love you to sit down with them. It might look like we are being lazy to some people, but we are interacting with them about the questions which they really enjoy – you can’t do that in every job.
This is the first time I have worked with people with physical disabilities and some have non-verbal communication. I’ve had children in preschool diagnosed with autism some of whom were non-verbal and I studied special needs assistance and disability awareness, so I had some information. But just getting to know each resident is key, as they all have ways to communicate - most have communication aids or books they use point to things. Someone helped me develop those skills when I first started here, but once you get to know them its pretty easy. There are also people that know different residents better than I do, so there is always someone you can ask.
There weren’t any qualifications needed before I took the role and I have had lots of training since I’ve been here, such as diabetes training, epilepsy awareness training and first aid. I have done every bit of training offered and I’m just waiting for the agreement for me to do level 3 NVQ in health and social care. We are doing lots of training now that people can come in again.
I come to work to see the residents, it really is my highlight. We’re starting to become keyworkers now for particular residents as well, so I will be getting more involved in the communications with families. I would recommend that people just give it a go and you’ll be amazed and there are always people around to help.