Most every family will live their lives safe in the knowledge that only Grandma and a rare visiting Auntie will see them in their favourite Disney PJ’s, yawning on the way to their morning ablution. I wake up everyday to greet a variety of carers as they enter our home, 7.00am the door bell rings and our privacy evaporates. I mostly bump into the roster-ed carer on the stairs; I’m usually sleepy, padding barefoot towards the kettle for morning tea.
Emily was discharged home from Royal Rehab at Ryde in Nov 2012, her care package commenced a week later. I managed single-handed up till that point; I was very exacting and deliberate as I tried to set an order to our regime. When our first carer arrived I slumped with joy and exhaustion, I would’ve managed but there was no longevity to my being Emily’s only carer 24/7. I needed to get myself up in the morning, get the laundry going, get the dog walked and get the potatoes peeled so that the rest of the day could be lived and worked!
Writing about carers is personal
The first month or two I endeavoured to be dressed and ready to receive the carer into our home with a “Morning!” As a qualified nurse I oversaw aspects of the daily routine, lingered and instructed on the way I wanted care delivered. I don’t regret my matronly supervision as it essentially defined the nursing standard that Emily should expect as she has to regulate, shape and manage her own routine thereafter.
Several things happened gradually:
- Emily grew in confidence and assertiveness. As she gained experience and knowledge so she usurped me.
- By establishing a high standard of care with hygienic practices the carers always have the opportunity to deliver a superior service.
- Clarity of instruction and a structure in all things helped define and preserve professionalism in our team.
- Cleanliness, health and safety, nutrition and exercise, polite respect are all paramount in our daily expectations; with all these elements in place there is no ambiguity, carers understand their role and exert themselves well.
- A clearly defined approach allows the carers to relax into the care plan as directive and comprehensive. The radio is on, the dog wanders genially about the bedroom, the carers are greeted by me, on the stairs, with my special morning hair do, PJ’s and cuppa!
The rapport between Emily and her carers is pleasing to watch and a natural rhythm evolves as everyone is working in a convivial manner. The carers know we respect them and we treat them with courtesy, we listen and credit them with any suggested improvements to the household routine.
Writing about carers is personal
I have had to learn how to accept carers into my the house, accept that my privacy is compromised but actually what am I doing; drinking tea, watching Sunrise news, fetching groceries, peeling potatoes and most usually I’m writing my blog from the dining room table. I have to ask myself what is private in a family home? I realise now the real issue to accepting carers is feeling comfortable and it was when Emily and I felt comfortable that everything fell into place.
Our carers have enhanced our lives with conversations about their homes, families, holidays and tales of their daily adventures. Exchanges are naturally volunteered as Emily’s carers become more; there is an extra dimension to the relationship that allows relaxed, unguarded conversations and behaviour by them and us. This happens because there is order, acceptance and respect. It was not obvious how to achieve this at the beginning but it develops through trust and familiarity. We have been extremely lucky with our carers, they have been and continue to be lovely, engaging individuals.
I have talked to other families about their experience of service provision in the home. One mother felt uncomfortable with the laundry being sorted and handled by anyone other than herself. I know I was amazed at how differently our washing could be pegged on the line, so many variations to a simple task. I hold the opinion that I trust the carers with Emily’s autonomic dysreflexia so I trust them hanging out my smalls!
Emily and I would struggle to cope at home without a care package; without service provision. Our carers are like little orbs of sunlight shining on our day. Nursing is a wonderful profession and these carers display this to Emily and I everyday.