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APR 02/2019

Zanda Ladu: Caring Teaches You About Yourself

“I have been a carer for most of my adult life.

I’ve had care ingrained into my life from the day that I became a primary carer at the age of 25 for both my Mum and Dad, who are sadly no longer with us.

As for my current care journey, it was just a natural fulfilment of my burning desire to help others. For 15 months now, I have been a care worker and I intend to continue to my small days. My work involves promoting the independence and welfare of my service users. I ensure that the voices of my service users are heard and acted upon.”  

Why I became a care worker

“It’s because of my belief. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters most to me is the joy I get out of the care that I provide and the smile I receive from the service users as an appreciation of what I do. If I won the lottery, would I still come to work? Absolutely!

If I didn’t enjoy what I did, getting out of bed in the morning would get harder and harder. For me, providing care just makes sense and I care for my service users in the same way as I would want to be treated or cared for.”

Caring teaches you about yourself

“The most rewarding part about being a care worker is when one of my service users says ‘thank you’ or tells me that they’re looking forward to seeing me next time. I love chatting to them, having a laugh with them and understanding their personalities. They give you their undivided attention and truly value human interaction, which is why it’s important to make the most of the time you have with them.

However, as with any walk of life, there are of course the bad days. I feel that my work in care has managed to dispense some of the usual perceptions about the elderly in society. Often the elderly are made to feel like a different human species. Seeing people at their most vulnerable and providing hope, reassurance or a shoulder to cry on is an amazing feeling.

There's nothing quite as satisfying as going home after a day's work knowing I have done something really important and special. Every day is different. It helps you to grow as a person and the caring element teaches you about yourself.”

Put yourself in their shoes

“The hardest challenge is knowing that my service users won't be with me forever, but it’s about making their life as enjoyable and independent as possible.

I always try to put myself in my service user’s shoes, especially those that have dementia. I can tell that they don’t understand why I’m there and in some cases, they look embarrassed that they need the support as they’ve often lost the independence that they once had. They may not recognise it, but I will always ensure that I provide person-centred care and treatment by listening, understanding and reacting in a friendly and comforting way.”

A typical day

“There is never a ‘normal’ day, as you can be met with different challenges on each visit and I could be visiting the same service user once, twice, three or four times a day, depending on their current care plan.

Here is what a typical day looks like:

A morning call:Support in getting out of bed; providing the confidence to shower either with help or independently; preparing their breakfast and ensuring they’re getting the right nutrition. During this time I would be cleaning the bathroom, washing the dishes and carrying out any other tasks with which they may need support, such as ironing or cleaning.

A lunch call:This would involve preparing a meal, making them a drink plus supporting with personal care and assisting them to the toilet.

Tea call:This is in the late afternoon. I would prepare a snack and ensure that they are comfortable before the bed call.

Bed call:I will return at this point to support the service user in getting ready for bed. I will assist with personal care, get them dressed, make them a drink and ensure that they’re comfortable and relaxed in time for bed.”

When it’s not a typical day

“I went to visit a service user on a morning call. After entering the key code to get into the building I found them on the floor. He’d had a fall and was bleeding. His breathing was abnormal and the house was very cold. I carried out the usual checks to ensure he was okay. I then covered him in a blanket to keep him warm and called the ambulance, followed by the office to let them know what had happened.

I started to get increasingly worried. It had been four hours since I called the ambulance and I was anxious that his health was deteriorating. I contacted my next service user to let them know about the predicament, as I was due to be somewhere else. I then continued to talk to my service user, reassuring him that help was on the way whilst I monitored his welfare.

I then saw the next-door neighbour and beckoned her to come in. I asked her to go to the nearest shop to buy an electric token, as the house was cold and had run out of pay-as-you-go electricity. She kindly accepted and came back quickly from the shop.

After five hours the ambulance arrived. I explained all that had happened, and the service user was taken away to the hospital.”

Thinking about becoming a care worker?

“It can be a demanding job which often requires you to think on your feet, so it’s important that you are driven. Your personal attributes must include patience and empathy, as some of the service users live alone and rarely have anyone else to talk to. Show genuine interest in them. This can be shown through simple things like them asking them about their day or finding out about their life. Warm smiles and a cup of tea can also transform someone’s day and show them that you care.

Also, remember that each service user is unique. You must understand the importance of providing personalised care and empowerment whilst respecting a service user’s dignity. One way of empowering independence is through respecting the autonomy of a service user. A carer should understand that their service user must have the ability to make decisions for themselves, such as when to get up, what to eat and where to go.

Finally, if you are interested in becoming a care worker, you must be trustworthy. Trust is the foundation of any relationship between a care worker and service user. This is because you will be working with your service user when they are at their most vulnerable. This calls for reliability, punctuality, and respectability.

Prior experience in a role doesn’t always count. What counts is the passion someone possesses for the role. If you are passionate about providing care, believe me, you are much more likely to do it well.” 

 

To make a difference in your community, click here to find out more or apply. 

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