Do you or a loved one receive care at home or in a residential or day care setting? Are you concerned about the qualities to look for when selecting a care worker? Are the qualifications presented on a CV enough to determine if an individual will be a good carer, performing to a high standard of service? What considerations will help you to choose or decide if the person is going to be a good carer? "Caring with a Difference" is written by Paulette Francis to help answer these questions and more. She shares her knowledge and her insights after many years of experience in the social care sector. "Qualifications are not the only things to be considered," she says. "Character is just as important as competence". Her "little book" as it is fondly referred to by Lord Tony Benn, places emphasis on the practices and the personal qualities of a care worker, equally. "It is the little things that one does that make the difference" says Paulette. Compassion, consideration and attention to details that preserve the dignity and respect of a client, are essential to the delivery of quality care. If you are a care worker looking for a quick, easy-to-read guide to being an excellent care giver then "Caring with a Difference" is the book for you. "It is the Care Workers' responsibility and privilege to make sure that they develop the personal qualities that will improve their performance and the experience of their client ", says Paulette Francis. "It takes a special person to be a good Carer", she adds.
Adults have adult rights and expect their views, opinions, and choices to determine the services provided for them and the way in which they receive and experience them. Although I have likened the care of the vulnerable to caring for a child, there is a big difference. I am not trying to undervalue or create a negative picture in respect of the person in receipt of care. Where we are addressing the care of adults we have to be deeply sensitive to this distinction. For example, the elderly have lived full lives; raised families, suffered pain and hardships, worked productively, sacrificed for loved ones, served their communities and their country in order to make this world a safe place for us to live. We owe them our present and our future. We owe them common respect. We owe them their dignity. Do not be complacent or dismissive of the personal history of the older generation. Many times I have been told horror stories by people who fought and lived during war times; in particular during the First and Second World Wars. They speak about the food rationing that was endured, the soldiers who fought in the war and saw their friends dead and the fear of being next. There were ladies who did not get married or have children because of the uncertainty or unlikelihood that husbands would be alive from one day to the next. One lady recalled how difficult it was to bring up her family on her own because her husband died fighting for us to enjoy the freedoms and privileges that we do today. The point is, we who are their Carers and society as a whole owe these elders a debt of honour, respect, duty and privilege to act for and on their behalf to provide the best care and support possible at all times. This is a Carer’s mandate and it ought to be our society’s imperative. A good Carer is a very special person. Caring for sick, frail elderly and disabled people is a very special job and only certain individuals are truly capable of performing this role, well. Certainly, being a Carer is a very demanding job both physically and mentally. It is also a job like any other for which one gets paid. While we accept that many other jobs are equally demanding, that is where the comparisons by and large cease to apply. A Carer requires qualities that most other jobs do not; qualities that have as much if not more to do with the heart and mind of a person as with their skills set. Sometimes it is said that one needs to be like “an angel” to really be a good Carer. My focus then is the person in receipt of social care and the person charged with delivering those services. Real Not False Pride We attempt nothing great but from a sense of the difficulties we have to encounter, we persevere in nothing great but from a pride in overcoming them. - William Hazlitt One should never be surprised when a new client tells you as a Carer or provider of Services that they do not need the care or support on offer. This is especially the case in relation to the older service user. Older people often have difficulty accepting their dependency and the limitations they are facing and consequently they pretend to a perceived outsider to be able to manage by themselves. On the other hand they may also feel that they have outlived their usefulness and are a burden, a liability and are therefore imposing on the Carer. They become the greatest actors and actresses in order to keep up a facade of independence and in so doing maintain their dignity. Sometimes an older person for example, will be sitting in a mess and yet work hard to convince the Carer that everything is fine with them. They are often embarrassed to need personal help and too proud to admit they need assistance with seemingly simple tasks such as getting a cup of tea or going to the bathroom. On the face of it, it might seem that this is false pride but it is not. This is real pride in having lived an independent life, having taken care of loved ones, held responsible jobs and now wanting to stand on their “own two feet”. An impossible feat in the face of the challenges of they must now face. It is hard for any human being to let a stranger into one's private space. Personal hygiene is a very private activity that we perform for ourselves. Of necessity and by choice it is always carried out alone in private. Yet vulnerable people who need personal care and assistance have to allow a Carer, who is not even a family member, to assist them in this most intimate of activities. Imagine that this often includes toilet activities. This is the reason that dignity and privacy are the core issues of delivering care services and must be handled with tact, and sensitivity. Appropriate training in the skills of care provision is essential but the interpersonal skills that allows a carer to gain the confidence of the client or service user, guard privacy and maintain dignity are just as important, if not more so. Skills are excellent and essential qualities of care but a good Carer is one who combines all those with a heart and mind of compassion, concern and genuine care. In all my years in the care industry I have learnt one inescapable truth; the character of the Carer is of equal importance to their competencies.
Paulette Francis started out in the social care sector as a care worker over 15 years ago. She progressed to being the owner of a multi-million pound business that provides care and support to clients both in the private and public sectors. But even as the owner of such a large and successful business she maintained a hands-on approach. She did not hesitate to go out and provide cover for her clients when she was on-call. This speaks volumes to her passion and concern to ensure the well-being of her clients is always paramount. It is also this passion that has been the motivation to share her expertise and insights about the personal qualities and mind set that a good carer needs to deliver excellent care. People who are involved in social care either as staff or as service users and their relatives will find that the contents of this book; "Caring with a Difference" will inform, enhance and empower all who read it. After so many years of direct involvement, delivering care to over one thousand clients, working with hundreds of families and supervising the work of hundreds of care staff, she is ideally experienced to add to the pool of knowledge available in this area. This book will make a difference in the quality of care that the most vulnerable and dependent members of our society receive from those whose responsibility is to provide care and support in a compassionate, competent and professional manner.