I can hardly believe that we are back at homecare day and that it has been a year since I last wrote about my love of homecare and what it had meant to me personally as a homecare manager responsible for delivering services across Glasgow.
Sitting writing about and celebrating all that is good and amazing about homecare in December 2019, I would never have imagined that COVID was about to hit and bring with it the many changes we have seen since March this year.
As this is a celebration piece I am not going to dwell on the many ongoing challenges the workforce are currently experiencing as a result of COVID-19, but instead once more highlight again the wonderful work that homecare staff continue to deliver all year round. This year more than any it is important to thank and celebrate these social care workers who despite the challenge, despite the difficulty of the work involved and despite the risk get up each morning and deliver their truly life changing work. Care workers who support people to stay at home with their loved ones, to live in their own communities and empower them to live as full a life as possible. This has been achieved with care and support from workers who encourage them each and every day and at a time when staff members are also struggling with the impact of COVID-19.
I would like to celebrate the resilience of our social care workforce who have said very little in the way of complaint but have risen to the challenge presented and continued to provide homecare services. The staff who have voluntarily gone and have been tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis for their piece of mind and to ensure they are not passing on the infection to others and those they support. A workforce whose absence levels dropped from the beginning of the pandemic and who have worked steadily to ensure that vitally important care is delivered to those most vulnerable in our communities.
I have been told directly by homecare managers how impressed they have been to witness their staffing teams deliver care services day after day while managing their own fears and concerns during this pandemic. Care managers are the biggest champions of their own staff and you can hear the pride they feel as they speak of their workers and what they are managing to achieve against all odds. I say against all odds as this is a sector that was extremely fragile before COVID-19 due to the sheer nature of their work, what they are asked to do and the little recognition and respect social care staff generally receive.
Homecare is particularly special to me as I started as a home care worker and found my niche in life with this work. Building relationships with people and eventually being instrumental in creating their care packages was a privilege. I witnessed people overcoming huge adversity and some of the worst challenge’s life can throw at you. Individuals who experienced ill health and accidents that dramatically changed their way of living and quality of life but were supported to regain their independence as much as possible and continue to enjoy the things that made them happy. When you work in homecare you get to experience the very varied and different ways people choose to live their lives and to be a small part of that at times. This time of year is historically challenging as staff are keen to have time off to spend with their families however in my experience a balance was always managed to be achieved and staff share many a laugh and festive cheer with those they care for and their family members.
Quite often a Santa hat and bits of tinsel were part of the Christmas care worker uniform (sadly not this year for infection control reasons) and generally people were in great spirits when working together over the holiday period.
COVID-19 has made us all focus on the importance of our relationships with others whether they are with our families, friends, work colleagues and those we meet during our work. It is no wonder that homecare workers have stepped up and continued to make a huge difference to people by providing their essential care and support and ensuring they remain safe at home as building relationships is a huge part of the work they do. These meaningful relationships between care workers and those they support are vitally important when providing intimate care and with encouraging and motivating people when they are experiencing difficulties.
Homecare is going to be such an important part of Christmas this year as families may not be as able to travel to each other and spend the same time together that they are used to doing. This will mean that the homecare worker may be the only person that someone sees, and their support and company is more crucial now than ever.
My one wish at New Year this time around will be to ask again that social care gets the recognition it deserves, that homecare workers and all social care workers will be looked at and treated with the respect they are entitled to. Home care and support workers will be treated as the highly skilled professionals they are, many with years of vast experience caring for people and their ability to bring that special comfort to those in pain and in need of support.
Merry Christmas to all of you out in our communities working hard, we see and understand what you manage to achieve and will shout about it as loud as we can until it is fully recognised by everyone.
Workforce Policy & Practice Lead