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A Question Of Respect

Live-in carers travel up and down the country and fly across the Channel every day to stay in the home’s of other people’s parents and care for them. We perform any number of tasks; cooking, cleaning, shopping, driving to GP or social appointments, companionship, attending to personal care needs, the list goes on. We love what we do and will always go out of our way, that said we are also human and as such, desire and deserve respect. Respect for ourselves from ourselves, respect from each other, respect in the form of support from colleagues in the office, respect from other healthcare professionals and respect from the sons and daughters of the people we dedicate our time to.

A few years ago my client and I had to spend the night in the hospital. I sat up all night in a chair and was so was exhausted when we returned home the next morning. Company policy does not allow us to work in such circumstances, so my client’s daughter took the day off from work to come and do my job that day so that I could rest. At the end of the day, she was in awe of what I and my co-carer did every day. She had never realised what a full-time physical and mental dedication it was to keep her father fed, clothed, clean, dry, safe and happy. Her respect for us went from a normal level of almost unconscious respect and gratitude to ‘these women deserve a red carpet, each and every day’ level of gratitude and respect.

I would like to say to all my fellow carers in the company, those I know and speak to regularly, and those I have never met or spoken to: you are awesome and you do an amazing job. I have written a small dedication to you in the form of a short letter to a client’s daughter filling her in on how the week went. It gives an idea of what an average week in live-in care might look like.

Dear Amy,

I hope you are enjoying your holiday. Just a quick note to let you know how your mum is. We have had a good week, overall, with a few ups and downs, but don’t worry, your mum is well and safe and happy.

She has eaten well this week and even enjoyed helping me bake some scones on Wednesday. We had the neighbours round for a small tea party as Mum had been a bit down over the weekend and I thought a tea party would lift her spirits. Doris from next door baked her trademark cherry loaf, and Jim and Anna from up the road brought some strawberries from their garden. We had a lovely afternoon and Mum slept well that night.

I was grateful for this as neither of us had had much sleep the previous few nights. Mum had a bit of an upset on Saturday night. At around 11 pm she called me and said she was feeling ‘woozy’ and I could see she was anxious. Her blood pressure and heart rate were a bit high, so I rang 111. A nurse came around at 01.30am to check Mum over. All her vital signs were within normal range and there was nothing to indicate any physical illness.

Mum had been reminiscing a bit about your dad that day and we had spent some time looking at old photo albums. Although she had enjoyed this, she did feel a bit tearful at one point and was quieter than usual after dinner. I expect that all these memories had been swirling through her head after she had gone to bed and this is what made her feel anxious. On Sunday and Monday night Mum had been restless; I could hear her moving about a bit in her room. Several times I checked on her and we had quite a few late night cups of tea.

On Wednesday she was much more cheerful and we went shopping at the nursery for some colourful plants which the gardener potted for her on Wednesday morning. They are arranged on the patio where she can see them from her usual chair.

I drove Mum to her hospital appointment on Thursday for the dermatologist to remove the stitches on her arm. He was very pleased with the way the wound had healed and to celebrate we had fish and chips that night.

Next week Gabby is on holiday so a new carer, Deena, will be coming instead. As you know, Mum gets anxious when she has to have somebody new. I have been reassuring her that it will all be fine. The new carer will arrive on Tuesday afternoon and spend the night here, so by the time I leave on Wednesday she will know Mum’s routine and Mum will have got a bit more used to her. We have looked at Deena’s profile and picture together and every now and then we have a little chat about ‘the new lady’ and what a ‘nice smile’ she has.

I will finish off now and go and make us some dinner. It’s time for her favourite TV show soon, so dinner must be on the trays by 7 pm sharp! Mum is looking forward to your return.

Best wishes,
Laetitia