Home Care Day: The unsung heroes of social care

The Unsung Heroes of Social Care

When asked to contribute a piece for Home Care Day in my role as Workforce Development Consultant with Scottish Care I was filled with trepidation.

I appreciate that this is not the most positive start to a blog, but please bear with me.

Having previously held a senior role within the Care at Home service of a Local Authority and currently welcoming a Care at Home service into my own home four days a week, my concern was just what to highlight and how to do justice to the work carried out from the earliest hours of the morning to the latest hours of the night, 365 days a year.

It is my belief that the thousands of care at home workers doing their job all over the country are the unsung heroes of social care.

We live and work in a time when the demand for care services is unprecedented, while the financial resources to provide them has never been more strained.

As a nation we are living longer – which is extremely positive!  However we are not necessarily any healthier, with the same level of critical health needs per head of capita as before.

This means that there are many more of us needing care and support to maintain our independence than at any other time in history – and the people at the forefront of the action are our care at home colleagues.

It has often irked me over the years when the work of home-carers has been discussed almost dismissively by those who have had no experience of either carrying out the work or of receiving the excellent services provided.  Never more so than when the carer themselves have uttered the self-deprecatory line 'I'm just the carer'..!

The role of home-carer has always been incredibly complex and has become increasingly more so over recent years as people live in their own homes longer with more needs to be met.

To enter someone's home is a deeply personal thing; to then provide intimate personal care intensifies this.  Add to this providing nutrition, emotional support and assistance with the medicines that keep people well and we get a sense of the importance of the role and of the individual carrying it out.  And all measured out in minutes.

The people who carry out care at home begin work before many of us have pressed 'snooze' on our alarms for the first time and finish work when most of us have turned off our bedside lamp and closed our eyes.  At this time of year they are being soaked by rain and chilled by wind as they go about their business of providing the precious gift of being in their own home to the most vulnerable of us.

Could you do it? And with good cheer?

It takes a very special person to be a good care at home worker. They are our unsung heroes.


Paul O'Reilly

Workforce Development Consultant, Scottish Care



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