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Oh You Are Just A Carer??

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

As a paid carer sometimes you can be left to feel undervalued in society, like most carers, in the past I've had that feeling too. But not anymore...



So I've seen a fair few job adverts lately advertising for care staff. And credit where it is due, their marketing teams have been trying all sorts to grab people's attention. I've seen a lovely post advertising the care role as spending time with people and listening to stories, in fact it was that well written I nearly pressed click to apply myself!


Then I've seen the other end of the scale where their marketing team have opted for the 'enrage people' route obviously to get people talking, well commenting, which then bumps their advert up the algorithm. These adverts were about how a carer is JUST the person that washes the dishes or JUST the person that cleans up poo.



Whilst their marketing campaign may be good intentioned, I have to admit, it hit a little nerve with me. And judging from the comments on their post, hit the nerve of many other people too!


Just A Carer


It took my so long to say I was a carer. (And for full disclosure, I still don't say I'm a carer. I say I'm a Self Employed Carer.)


But why did it take me so long to identify as a carer? And more to the point, enjoy and proudly say I am a carer.


I think it was a combination of factors. I had so many preconceptions of carers. Rightly or wrongly this is how I saw being a carer:


  • Care is seen as a job that anyone can do.

  • If you can't get a job, then you can always get a job in care.

  • When I picture a carer, I see someone in. uniform running around in a care home, being unhappy in their work.

  • Everyone knows carers are on minimum wage which means your work just isn't important.


But without doubt, it was simply because I felt like I should have achieved more in life.


I did believe I was JUST a carer.



My Journey Into Care


I've talked about it before, but I'll say it again. I LOVE my caring role. But I didn't always feel like this. I first battled with the demon of I Can Do More.


I was a straight A student at school but never really found my path. I went to work with horses which I loved, but soon realised that if I ever wanted children or a home, the working with horses lifestyle was going to make that hard as it pays little and the work is hard. But then I started working with a gentlemen who has learning disabilities at the yard I worked at and actually found I LOVED working with him more than the horses. I enjoyed the challenge of teaching him new skills and motivating him to work alongside me. He enjoyed working with me, so that became our routine. We worked together every day. And that was the spark that set my career in a total new direction.


Becoming A Support Worker

I still remember the day I handed in my notice at the horse yard. It was a job I loved but I knew it was the right time to make my move. So off I went to work as a support worker and go to uni to get a social work degree. Note, the actual plan was to become a social worker, but after getting the degree, I couldn't have thought of a worse job. If you want to enter a job where you can literally never win, and no matter what you do, you upset someone, then social work is for you! (No disrespect to social workers, they do a fantastic job, but as a quality of life decision for myself, I pivoted quickly and decided this wasn't going to make me happy!) So I used my degree to enter management in a supported living charity and there I stayed for a while.


By this point, my job roles had included support worker, befriender, team leader, agency staff and lead support worker. Whilst each role varied in what was needed, the main component of the role was always the same, care. I was there because someone needed my care.


But never once did I call myself a carer.


For a long time I NEVER identified as a carer. Many years later, when I was creating our micro care company offering care services in the community, I still didn't use the term carer, I pitched our service as Independent Personal Assistants.


When I though about what I really did well in life. What my strengths were, I often thought I'm really good at providing care. I never though 'I'm a good carer'.



Care or Support?


Whilst I could rightly argue that I never used the term carer because, technically, my job role was always called something else. But that was simply just jargon and care companies trying to make the job sound more appealing.


And it worked. I would happily apply for a support worker job. But never a carer job. To me a carer was someone that worked in an old folks home. Wear's a uniform and works miserable shifts in a miserable place and provides care.


But a support worker worked in someone's house, doesn't wear a uniform and provides care. So that's the difference.


Same main tasks undertaken. Just in a different environment and wearing different clothes. So actually if carers and support workers are doing the same tasks, doing the same job, does that not make the term care and support interchangeable too?


I was a carer. Plain and simple. My job role was about providing care to people.



Seeing The Light

It was only when I started working with then older generation that I started to use the term carer. It was mainly a practical thing at first, as they didn't know what a personal assistant or a support worker was. Those terms hadn't really existed. But a carer they knew.


And when we would be out and about, they would proudly introduce me as their carer. Sometimes I would hesitate as to how to explain my identity, as I didn't know whether saying I was their carer was embarrassing for them, as it showed they needed support these days. But when my clients happily answered the question, proudly stating I was their carer, it started to change my views.


If admitting to receiving care wasn't embarrassing. Identifying as a carer also shouldn't be embarrassing.


FYI I'm not sure if embarrassing is the correct term here, but I can't quite put correct word to the feeling. Society doesn't value the care role as important as it needs to. For a long time I felt like I should be doing more with my life. As if being a carer wasn't good enough. I could do more, be more, aim higher. Was being a carer was just settling to a mediocre life?




Becoming A Self Employed Carer


But then I made the most significant work decision I had ever made.


I set up as a self employed carer.


And I started delivering care to people in the community in a true person centred way.


And whilst person centred care is a bit of jargon, what it actually stands for, is putting the person you are caring for at the heart of all you do. When you do this, the care they receive is amazing. And providing that next level of quality care, makes for a truly satisfying career.


Being a self employed carer meant that I could provide really bespoke packages of care and can be flexible in how support is delivered. So I started meeting people's wishes and wants as well as their needs. I got to work out what was important to them and provide support around those desires.


But most importantly, I started to build a reputation as a really good carer. And I LOVE it!


I love the fact that my hard work and top notch caring skills now directly build my reputation and my own business. And I get to be MY OWN BOSS. So no more following silly company rules or playing staff politics. I can simply concentrate on what matters; the people I support.


The more people I work with as a self employed carer, the more I realise how truly important being a carer is.


How truly important delivering high quality care is to not just the person receiving care, but to their families too.



Delivering Excellent Care


Yesterday, a senior nurse practitioner came out to see a gentleman we are working with. He is currently struggling with fluid retention in his legs. So we discussed using pressure stockings. She measured up for below knee stockings. But she was worried that would leave a fluid build up above his knee. So I suggested thigh length stockings. The nurse said she doesn't like them as they constantly roll down and annoy people, then they don't end up using them at all. I then told her about another lady we see who we put thigh stockings on and we then use roll on body glue to keep them from falling down, it works a treat. Her mouth dropped open. So I sent her the link as to what we used and she measured up for thigh length stockings. This little bit of imparted wisdom will now impact on many people she will see as she has found a solution to a problem she sees daily Her exact words were ' I love working with carers who know what they are doing'.


Another example was when I daughter of a customer called us 'miracle workers'. Because we have started providing care for her dad, who is adamant he wants to stay at home, but all his family live really far away so are unable to help day to day. As he has got older his needs have changed and he now requires some daily help. This obviously caused the whole family a lot of worry and stress as they weren't able to fulfil their dads daily needs from such a distance. So we stepped in, not only are we helping the gentlemen stay in his own home safely, but we have relieved the family of a lot of stress and worry.


Or another example was when I was out walking with a gentlemen we supports daughter as I was walking her dad's dog, she was walking her dog. The gentlemen we support didn't join me for a walk this day as it was raining (who can blame him!). His daughter turned round to me and said 'I genuinely feel so lucky to have found you'.



I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea. Being a carer is important.


Being a great carer can be life changing for all involved.


For all those carers out there that feel like they are JUST a carer. Then the problem is the model of care you are in. Not the caring role itself.


Take action.


Utilise your skills.


Become more than JUST a carer.


Become a SELF EMPLOYED CARER!





Written by:

Maria Tomlinson

Full Time Self Employed Carer

Founder of the Professional Carers Network


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4 commentaires


wendyann001
wendyann001
06 févr. 2023

This is so true, I am proud to say I am a Carer, I do say at times when ask what's my job? I just simply say I'm just a Carer, and yes my clients when they introduce myself they do say it with great pleasure "this is my Carer " Great article.

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sandradavis1066
02 févr. 2023

I don’t have a problem with saying I’m a carer. I’m not embarrassed about it. I’m doing a good job keeping a nearly 102 lady happy and to me it’s rewarding. I’m also a bouncer and not embarrassed to say that either lol.

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sandy.terry
02 févr. 2023

Thank you for taking us on your journey as a Carer. What you have written certainly resonates with me. Well written and perhaps those who read it will think of themselves a more than “Just a CRer”

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mariamarsden
02 févr. 2023
En réponse à

Thank you, xx

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