Home care is an essential service for many people who want to maintain their independence and quality of life while dealing with illness, disability, or the effects of ageing. In addition to families and friends, professional caregivers provide home care services which can be challenging physically and emotionally.
It is crucial to recognise the vital role of carers in providing home care as it’s the key to building stronger communities and circles of care. The importance of recognising and valuing carers cannot be overstated.
This article also appeared in Social Care Today under the heading ‘Our Unsung heroes: Recognising carers in home care‘.
Investing in carers
Investing in carers and building stronger circles of care can create a society that values and supports the needs of vulnerable people. It is essential that both government and care agencies are investing in carers, providing them with all the tools they need to do their job to the best of their ability.
Increasing pressures and demands placed on carers have led to high staff turnover and vacancy rates. The surge in the number of visas issued to foreign workers last year was predominantly driven by care workers, with a staggering 268,000 visas granted, nearly twice the amount issued in 2019. Responding to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the government took action in December 2021 by including care workers in the shortage occupation list.
This was to allow care homes to enlist overseas workers, resulting in a substantial rise in the influx of health and care professionals. In fact, the number of individuals entering the health and care sector last year surged by almost two and a half times compared to the previous year, with a total of 77,000 visas, marking a record high for any industry.
Improving salaries and employment conditions, investing in resources and training, and offering progression opportunities are all ways to support carers and improve retention.
Studies have also shown that carers, both professional and unpaid, have had increased anxious feelings due to the nature of their roles. It is imperative that carers are provided with mental health resources and support to improve overall well being.
Technology can play a significant role in improving on traditional paper based processes, giving carers back more time to care. With traditional methods, carers must spend significant time doing administrative work, alongside their regular caring duties. Recent developments in technology have introduced tools and platforms that can be used to increase efficiency and productivity. These technology platforms help ensure carers are well informed for every visit, are keeping family updated and in the loop, and delivering a high standard of personalised care for the client.
Technology can assist carers and care agencies with scheduling, record keeping, generating reports, and improving regulatory compliance. These features reduce the workload of carers, allowing them to spend more time caring and concentrate on their clients.
Investments in technologies and tools can show carers that they are supported and their time and work is valued.
Recognising and valuing carers
Recognising and valuing carers is a key strategy for building stronger circles of care and stronger communities. If carers feel appreciated and supported, the circle of care will be strengthened and improved.
However, carers often feel undervalued or unsupported. The reality of lone working for many home care workers is that they may become disconnected from their colleagues. For some, they may not connect face-to-face with their fellow team members for days, weeks or even months at a time. This can lead to dissatisfaction and rejection of what can be a rewarding career with many opportunities for advancement. The impact of a disengaged and fractured workforce certainly disrupts continuity of care for people using services and greatly interrupts the circle of care.
Many care providers work tirelessly and inventively to ensure that their teams stay connected with their colleagues. Engagement is key from the get-go and carers need to feel that there is a genuine proactive interest in their well-being and that their continual professional development is taken into account in their every day work. This means upskilling and supporting carers to be competent and confident in what is often complex care offering additional specialist training on areas of professional development..
Home care is a challenging career. Carers work tirelessly for their clients, often with a lack of support and recognition. Showing carers that they are valued and appreciated, and that their hard work does not go unnoticed, is of utmost importance in ensuring a strong circle of care.