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Teamwork and working in a Double Up
Some people enjoy working in teams: they like the camaraderie, the shared responsibility, and finding solutions together. Other people prefer being a lone worker: they like the freedom it brings to make decisions and solve problems on their own, and some of us like going solo because that's just who we are. I definitely fall into the latter category.
I have worked mostly on my own with clients and thoroughly enjoy this kind of environment. However, I have also worked for a long time in a double-up. What a multi-faceted, enriching experience that was. It was hard work, physically and emotionally demanding, and stressful, but I also had so much fun and laughed so much at times that my sides ached.
When we come into a double-up placement the most important thing to do is to leave our ego at the door. We are coming into a situation we know very little about. Sure, you have read the care plan, but the care plan does not tell you about the personalities of the people who live in that home, it does not tell you of the pain in that house, it does not tell you of the terribly disappointing experiences the family may already have had with previous carers. It also does not tell you of the path travelled by the existing, long-term carers and the client and the family, which has led to the way the placement works and the way the care is delivered there.
I can place the carers I worked with in my double-up into two categories. There were those who left their egos at the door and walked into the house with an open heart, willing to learn and willing to follow the lead carers and the family’s wishes. Then there were those who wanted to change things, who wanted to put their stamp on the placement, who wanted to be in charge.
In the first category were the carers who were willing to accept that, despite their solid experience, they were novices in that specific placement. These were the women with whom I laughed until I was crying. These were the women who became my friends. These were the women who fitted in with family members in the home and who worked their socks off, putting their hearts and their compassion into delivering the very best care they could.
In the second category were the carers who brought their egos into the home. Good, competent, hard-working carers, but unwilling to fit in and follow the lead of others with an intimate knowledge of the situation. They did not perceive the 'vibe’ of the place and seemed uninterested in learning about the long and painful journey the family, the client, and the carers had been on, to bring them all to that particular point in their lives.
This experience brought home to me the importance of humility, and being able to put aside what I may think is best, for the common good. When the carers in a double-up co-operate and work together for the good of the client and the family, the placement is a happy, warm, environment of harmony and goodwill. This is what we should always strive for in our work: the good of the client. However, when carers pull against each other, when the new carer does not respect the knowledge of the long-term carer and the wishes of the client and family, the home becomes a tense, stressful environment. This is never good for the client. Of course, the long-term carers also need to provide support and guidance, and both parties need to give some ground. Of course, a new carer has every right to make suggestions, I have definitely learnt a lot from other carers who had varying experience of care and situations that I did not have.
It comes down to respect and fitting in, with a shared goal: working for the good of the client. We are there to support the client and to support the family in whichever way works for the client. Working in a spirit of co-operation rather than a spirit of competition is always the path to harmony. For me, maintaining harmony for the client is at the heart of live-in care.
Laetitia Hannan is one of our very own Professional Carers who has worked with The Good Care Group as a Relief Carer on the Senior Care Team for over 3 years. Laetitia strongly believes in providing an outstanding service to the clients she cares for and provides a fascinating insight into the role of a carer. We hope that you enjoyed this blog as much as we did and find it both interesting and useful. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave below!