Bude is a beautiful place to which many people choose to retire, benefiting from the sea air, and a compact, friendly community.
However, as we age, our needs change and in some cases, increase. Previously, Bude has been a difficult place to find care for the elderly within their own homes.
This is where Home Instead comes in really useful. With a head office in Tavistock, the organisation now has ex-nurse, mentor and educator, Shirley Peacock, specifically co-ordinating caregivers in the Bude area, creating a reliable, consistent service for people living in this beautiful town. Her aim is to provide a caring local service for older people here who are facing the challenges of ageing.
Often, because people live away from their extended families, become widowed, or simply because close family members are busy sandwiched trying to care for older and younger generations, a helping hand is needed. Home Instead, therefore, offers care from people who live in the community, to help senior members of society remain safe and independent in their own homes wherever possible.
Home Instead is not just a care company, however, which probably explains why the Tavistock and Tamar Valley franchise received an Outstanding rating in February 2020 from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Home Instead provides a personal touch, offering high-quality, reliable care to older people in the area, incorporating personal care, dementia care, home help and housekeeping, respite care, palliative care and companion care.
We have all heard stories of caregivers who, due to organisational constraints rush in, help a person get ready, feed and medicate them and rush out again, simply because this is how the system often works with busy caseloads and back to back appointments.
With Home Instead, client visits are for a minimum of 1 hour, with a care package tailored to each client, and regularly reviewed, taking into account the input of the client, the family and the wider health teams.
Shirley is now recruiting caregivers, and is seeking to increase their client-base, too, as the organisation begins to offer this quality help to older people in Bude. She is very friendly and approachable, so would love to hear from you to discuss the caregiver role or your care needs in Bude.
Here, Co-ordinator, Shirley explains the rewards of being a caregiver:
“When visiting someone’s home, we become a friend as well as a carer; in some cases, if family lives away, we are almost a substitute family member. It is really important that visits are no less than an hour with the client, so that we can develop a person-centred service that offers continuity and quality which is regularly assessed.”
It is a big bonus that caregivers in Bude can now train in Bude.
Who uses the service?
“We are contacted by any people in a variety of situations. Sometimes, a spouse is struggling to cope and may need extra support at home. Often, a son or daughter contacts us for help for their parents, or the person themselves may realise there are certain things they need help with. Help can be very valuable, for example, after an early diagnosis of dementia, where we can develop a relationship with the client as the condition progresses, hopefully making things a little easier for them on their journey.
We deal with all care needs, such as help getting into the shower, or just having the reassurance of someone being there for someone scared of falling. Or we may provide full personal care with two caregivers as needs change over time. Clients are largely privately funded, with some referred by social services, and we work in small teams to ensure clients have continuity of cover during holidays or absence”.
Becoming a great caregiver
What sort of person becomes a caregiver? Shirley feels that practical skills can be taught, but it is a person’s attitude and life experience that matter most:
“We try to match clients to caregivers, where possible; they may have similar hobbies, for example. We also ensure the caregiver first meets the client in a safe way, where they are both introduced to each other. Men and women are welcome to apply for the caregiver role. Initial training takes three days (we still see this as part of the interview process) but learning about standards in care is ongoing, and additional training is provided as needed.
For a care visit, I schedule an agreed time with the client and family. All caregivers have use of a phone app which contains personalised care plans, and a breakdown of tasks so we know that a caregiver has arrived, and made notes on the visit. It is a trusted, reliable, paper-free system.
A typical visit might involve making tea, waking someone up, assisting the person in the shower and organising the clothes they choose to wear. A little light cleaning, such as vacuuming might be on the list, making breakfast and ensuring the client has the correct medication. Chatting as they go is normally the way. Some clients have 2-hour visits, or longer if a client needs someone to take them shopping or accompany them to a hospital visit, for example, but all of this is pre-agreed and timed.
Caregivers are employed by Home Instead, so are paid by the organisation, and they receive mileage allowance if taking a client shopping or to a medical appointment, and so on.
“We pay £10 per hour, above the minimum wage, and the same applies whether it is for companionship or personal care. The job is demanding, which is why we try to look after our caregivers with good levels of support, so they can do their job well. Managers would never ask a caregiver to do things they would not do themselves. We want them to be part of a team as we are a ‘we’ organisation. Saying thank you for people who step up the support is also really important.”
For clients, it’s about being personal, providing a quality connection, getting to know the person and their family members. The work is very rewarding. Seeing someone’s face light up when you arrive is a wonderful feeling.
“It’s a two-way process which gets the best out of everybody. Give a bit of yourself in the caregiver role and you will generally find a lovely, appreciative client. Changes occur over time, so part of the caregiver role is being proactively supportive, noticing things and thinking around issues. Through active listening and engaging in good conversation, we pick up clues. Is someone struggling to get the lid off jars, for example? How can we help with that?”
The practicalities …
Caregivers work at a variety of times between 7 am and 9 -10 pm as caring doesn’t stop simply because it is the weekend, but people work according to what fits in with their lifestyle.
If you apply to be a caregiver, you will be fully informed at an interview of what is involved, because Home Instead wants people on board who are fully committed. There are no age limits to being a caregiver, but being a car driver/owner is useful.
About Home Instead – philosophy and ethos
Based on a USA system of helping older people to stay at home for as long as possible, Home Instead is caregiving with a difference. The system was developed by co-founders of the franchise, Lori and Paul Hogan, whose Grandma, with the support of her family, was able to live at home until her passing aged over 100 years. In the UK, Lynn Roddy who founded the Tavistock and Tamar Valley Franchise in 2018, found herself in a similar situation. She found difficulties in finding quality/consistent care for her mother as her needs increased. Her mother eventually moved into residential care before her passing.
There is a place for both kinds of care. Obviously, with severe illnesses such as dementia, home care may not be a forever option, but quality care helps to keep people safe and secure in their own homes for as long as possible.
The first franchise in the UK started in 2005 The mission of Home Instead is “to become the UK’s most admired care company through changing the face of ageing”.