You Have Finished Your ‘Live in Care’ Training and You are Given Your First Client
“Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.”
– Saint Thomas Acquinas
Congratulations you have finished your training, you have your DBS, organised your UTR,(Unique Tax Number) you are ready to start work.
Your agency has just given you a care plan and a date of arrival at your new client. This is a very exciting time and also thoroughly nerve-wracking, all your planning scrimping and saving to get here has finally paid off. Now is your turn to become a ‘Live in Carer’ in the UK and join the ranks of thousands that have gone before you. You are not alone, there is always another Carer that will help or lend an ear.
The Agency has given you your first care plan.
This is what a Care Plan might look like:
Care Plan for Mrs Flutterbye
Mrs Flutterbye, 2 Snow Cottage, Winlow, Bucks, HP22 0SU Mrs Flutterbye is 82 years old, a widow that lost her husband 2 years ago, lives alone in a quaint 17th Century cottage set on the fringes of a pretty village. She suffers from slight depression and mild cognitive impairment; she walks with a stick. She is hard of hearing and is slightly diabetic. Her constant companion is her 11-year-old Jack Russel. She has had two knee replacements and has low blood pressure.
Carer bedroom: Single bed and built in cupboard carer has own bathroom
WIFI is installed, automatic car available for use by carer. Daily Schedule
8 am Take a cup of tea and morning papers to the Client in bed, open the curtains and organise outfit for the day. Leave the Client alone for 20 minutes to have Tea in peace.
Go back in and assist the Client to the bathroom and help her to shower and back to the bedroom to get dressed. Once complete client will do her hair and makeup and slowly make her way to the dining room.
9am Get Breakfast ready
Orange Juice, Yogurt, fresh fruit and Muesli
Brown Toast, crusts cut off, butter and Marmalade.
Clear away breakfast and tidy kitchen.
Discuss the plans for the day, update diary, and menu for the day
11 am Cup of Coffee and a Biscuit
The client will read the paper or may accompany you to shops for groceries
The Dog will need a quick walk
1 pm Light Lunch
Sandwich or cheese and Biscuits or Soup
2 pm Take your break
5 pm Offer client cup of tea
6 pm Offer client glass of wine
7 pm Prepare supper and serve supper on a tray
Tidy away supper things, sit with client
9pm Say goodnight to client, Mrs Flutterbye might like to watch TV till 10pm and can put herself to bed.
Once you have the care plan check to see whether WIFI is installed, is there a car you can use, check on the details surrounding your accommodation and bathroom. Look for signs of modernity; i.e., washing machine, tumble dryer, electric hob or Aga? The size of the property, other people on site; i.e., gardeners, housekeeper etc. On Google maps ascertain where local shops and amenities are. If uncertain on any of these details ask in advance, you need to know what awaits you. Hopefully, you will be able to speak with outgoing carer before arriving; she will be your new best friend.
This stage is perhaps the most terrifying, as you are going into unknown territory. The client is a stranger, the Clients’ home will be your new home for a while and you have no idea how this will pan out.
I have been in your shoes more times than I care to remember.
The moment I get the details of the new client I Google the address and look at the house on Google earth. I also look for information on the internet about the client, many Clients you visit will be well known in their own right. If you know a bit about their history, it helps to establish a picture of what you might find.
You should aim to arrive at your new clients’ home by midday. Check out the train station and the distance from the station to their house, sometimes the outgoing carer will fetch you from the station. This is a great opportunity to have a private conversation with the resident carer. Usually, you will be given a comprehensive handover by the outgoing carer. Sometimes you are not so lucky, so use all means available to you to get as much information as you can.
Make sure you are stocked up on all you need i.e., shampoo, toothpaste, medicines and maybe a packet of Cashew Nuts, it’s the little things that make a difference to your comfort level.
The information the outgoing carer gives is critical to your success in this role. It’s a good idea to make a list of questions to ask her before arriving. The Carer you meet will often become a very good friend so pay close attention to her, she is your lifeline initially.
Besides learning the personal details of the client, you need to know about the property; i.e. the mains switch for water and electricity, the heating system, and alarm system. You will need to know about the clients’ car and any idiosyncrasies with driving it. Pets and their care, when the gardener arrives, what day the rubbish bins are collected and when the milk and newspapers are delivered. A map of the local town, Doctors rooms, Hairdressers, Post office, Banks, Supermarket and Vets, find out the whereabouts of Dentists, the closest Hospital, nearby friends and relatives.
Ask about small valuables such as diamond rings, cufflinks, pearls etc as these are easy to lose and you need to be aware of their existence in the first place so you know to keep an eye on these articles. This is especially important if the Client has a failing memory.
You will soon work out what you need to know and after a while you will establish a pattern.
Mostly everything has been good for me and will be good for you too. I think you should always congratulate yourself on how brave you are and what an incredible job you are doing. It is not easy walking into a stranger’s home and syncing into their life and their habits. Learning the geography of the new home, learning about its occupant and managing to get on well with all the challenges you will face.
Still, a positive attitude helps tremendously. You are there to help someone that is vulnerable and unable to cope alone, and you are filling a very real and urgent need. They are lucky to have you in their life; your sacrifice is great.
The care plan will give you an idea of the routine. I most often read these care plans over and over, till they are memorised. Once the outgoing Carer has left, you are now on your own, time to organise your room and make it comfortable, plug in your computer and get onto the WIFI.
Normally after your break in the afternoon you will give the client a cup of tea and this is a good time to have an initial conversation. You can ask about the evening meal and what they would like and perhaps enquire about any plans diarised for the week.
I have found it’s best to be friendly and happy with the clients but never too personal, I only offer details about myself if asked. Many of the elderly are very self-involved and don’t often ask. This is a positive as you can remain separated from them and keep it professional.
A great deal of the elderly like to have their evening meal at about 7 pm which is reasonable, then simply wash up afterwards leave the kitchen in an orderly state and your day is nearly over. Congratulations you have just finished your first day, and you are still alive.
Every client has different night time routines. We are only required to be on duty for 10 hours. If you start at 8 am you finish at 9 pm with 3 hours off during the day.
Some clients are very selfish and want to stay up late. If they are well and physically able to put themselves to bed then leave them and go to your room. This is their choice to stay up. If they require help with going to bed and only want to go to bed at 11pm then they should be told that they need a night carer as well.
Many Carer’s will stretch themselves and do ridiculous hours, nobody thanks them and nobody rewards them. Often, the carer will become unwell and will not be able to work. Always take care of yourself and be firm.
I have been at the bedside of a wonderful carer in hospital that had a stroke owed to stress and was paralysed down the left side of her body. Thanks to her insurance she was flown back to SA to recuperate. This is not a good situation, and there is no need to get to it, learn to say “NO” before this happens to you. The Carer’s insurance does not cover your health.
Often a client will ask me how long I would like to work for them, or they have been told by the agency that I will work for them for as long as they want! I make it clear to them from the beginning that this is an unknown. I will say that I am happy to commit to three weeks or whatever I feel comfortable with but will see how our personalities pan out. Conversely, I say to the clients’ children, I am committed to being here for six weeks, if your mother takes a dislike to me on week two then I would need two weeks’ notice.
It is important to get this in place, as most often we are dealing with people with dementia who for no good reason may take a dislike to you and within an instant you can find yourself out of a job and on the street.
Should you like the setup and are prepared to stay on long term then it is wise to set up an employment contract with the family. You can find a Private ‘Live in Care Contract’ here.
Should you want to know more about how to become a ‘Live in Carer’ in the UK then buy my book The Complete Guide to Becoming a Live-in Carer in the UIK which you can find on my site here. I wish you all the very best in your new role as a ‘Live in Carer’ and humbly Salute you.