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A day in the life of...a self employed carer!

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

I get asked all the time, so what do you actually do? Well care is such a varied job it's hard to say exactly so I thought I would tell you about my day yesterday!



Lot's of people often ask me, what do you actually do? Then followed sheepishly with, 'is it a lot of personal care?'. it always interests me that this is the part of the job that really puts people off. But I can honestly say, I really don't do that much personal care. And even if I did, that is totally ok too, as I genuinely like making sure people are well presented and feel like themselves.


So I'm going to tell you about my day yesterday, totally picked at random, but in truth it is because it's still fresh in my mind!


So I dropped the boys off at Dodgeball club, as it's half term, but ordinarily it would be school. I always do the school run, both ends of the day because it is what works best for us as a family. In fact, I have a rule that I don't take any jobs on before 9am and between 3pm-4pm. Being able to set my own rules to suit my lifestyle is a very big perk of being self employed!




Getting MY chores done first


I then quickly walked my own dog and fed and turned out my horses and goats (I LOVE animals so have a little collection of them!). The day before I took a gentlemen I care for to go and meet my horses and goats. This day the horses had the dentist coming of which I had mentioned to the gentlemen as we were chatting, he looked thoroughly perplexed at the thought of this activity, so I invited him down to come and watch! At 93 years old, he had never seen such a job being done! He thoroughly enjoyed learning about teeth (as the dentist likes to explain in detail what he's looking for and doing!), watching the silliness of the goats and actually sitting in the sunshine, which is always a treat this time of year!

For those who also have never seen this, here's a pic of donkey getting her teeth done:


Anyhow, I then went to my first job.



Meeting people's wants and not just their needs

First job is to go to see a gentlemen who's dog we walk either with him or without him, weather depending. So today it was raining so I walked the dog on my own. Often in summer the gentlemen comes with me, I hold the dog as it may pull him over, and pick up the poo as that's too far down these days. But we will often go for a good walk, along the river, or sometimes up to the church yard to visit his wife's grave. But yesterday it was raining, so it was just me and the dog. I then got back to his house and made a sandwich for his lunch, left a note to remind him what he's having for tea and how to cook it, changed his bed, then I sat down and had a cup of tea and a chat. This latter part is the most important aspect of the visit, I always leave time for a brew and a chat with him.


I have a little soft spot for this gentlemen, he's 91 and has a wicked sense of humour. There's no need to sensor what you say around him, he's quick witted and you can tell him how it is. He's fabulous fun to visit every day, so it's a great way to start the day!


My next job was popping in to administer a lady's medication. She also sent me to the shop to get some milk as she was still in her dressing gown.


After that I went to see a couple who live around the corner from me, so it's a super handy job! Which comes in handy at times, as quite often we get a phone call to alert about a fall, or a confusion issue, and we can just pop around and help settle things down again. Anyway this visit is to cook lunch. I cooked pie, chips, fresh veg and gravy. The gravy is super important as the lady loves it! They are an absolute delight to cook lunch for, everything I ever make is 'beautiful and delicious'. Which is a welcome feedback when I'm used to cooking for young children at home where everything is 'horrid'! The joys of children at tea time (which in truth I duck out most of the time as I'm working, so my hubby gets the delights of tea time in our house!).


Anyway whilst lunch is cooking, I put the dry washing away, put the filter of the vacuum back together as I washed it the day before, vacuumed and cleaned the bathroom. The lady here likes to help so I prompted her to lay the table, reminding her each time she came into the kitchen what she had come in for, knifes and forks, cups etc. It isn't the quickest way to lay a table, but she feels like she is contributing to lunch. She also likes to wash up, so I wash up the bulk of stuff, but always leave the plates and cups for her to wash. I administered medication and had a good chat with them both.



Being flexible


I actually had the afternoon off yesterday which was amazing. It gave me a chance to catch up on my own jobs. In truth we've been that busy lately that I've had to let a few things slide, like my horse mucking out standards had got a bit sloppy and the beds were ready for a really good do. In fact they were that bad, I used the JCB instead of a wheelbarrow!




For those readers who have eagle eyes, the dead Christmas tree was from the goats stable, apparently goats are meant to eat Christmas trees, but all that happened was the goats walked around it and the needles dropped off. I think they missed the note about the fact they were meant to eat Christmas trees. They are partial to a mince pie though!


Anyway, I mention my afternoon off as it felt amazing to be able to catch up on jobs that really needed doing. You know those jobs that are playing on your mind but you just can't get round to doing it. So it was fabulous to be able to get caught up in the middle of my working day. This is a massive perk to being self employed, you can control what you do and when. I honestly don't know how people manage life who have to work 9-5 Monday to Friday!


Anyway, I had some availability as we normally see a lady who has dementia on this afternoon. We take her out for the afternoon to give her husband a well deserved break. We often go for a walk, do a bit of shopping, go for a drive, have lunch. Anyway this week she had an appointment so we weren't needed, which is fine, we are more than happy to be flexible to suit people' needs. We also happily support people to attend appointments, as that takes a lot of pressure off families who are still working. Trying to be available to attend numerous appointments and juggling work can be really stressful for family members. So we attend many hospital, doctors, opticians, dentist, chiropody and hair appointments with people as we can juggle our day around to fit in appointments quite easily.


Also from a business point of view, attending appointments and making professional connections means that we get a lot of work being sent our way as the professionals often recommend our service to others. As they see first hand the service we deliver, they also come into contact with lots of people needing care so it is quite natural for them to suggest that we may be able to help. It means that we pretty much never need to advertise for work as we are always fully booked or have someone on the waiting list ready to fill the gap when we get one.


Anyhow, back to the day. At this point I collected the boys from dodgeball club which they had loved! That was our first try at a holiday club, so I was hoping it would be successful as that is a good future option for childcare. The only slight issue was the youngest did cry a couple of times, in his brother words 'every time Stan got hit by the ball, it was always right in the face!'. Bless him, Stan didn't complain, just a part of playing dodgeball in his eyes!



The evening run


So after I had jumped in the shower and got clean ready for work again, my work buddy rang me to check in to see how each others day has gone. She finished her phone call with, 'I've dropped E off at the civic hall to play dominoes, please can you pick her up at 5pm'. No problems.


In our community the council have introduced 'warm spaces' meetings, so a place where people can go for a few hours for free, get a brew in the warmth and have chat to people. We've been attending quite a few with different people at different times as social interaction is important. (Did you know it has been proven that social isolation is as bad for your health as smoking is?!). Any way last nights meeting was really really busy! It was great to see. I picked up E and gave her friend a lift home too.


Once back at Es house, I made her a brew and some tea. Put the tv on to the correct channel for what she wanted to watch as she can be technically challenged at times and placed her pjs on the radiator so they are warm for later.


Off I went to make one gentleman his tea, lay up for his breakfast and stoke his fire. He has a wood burner so enjoys a nice warm lounge with a real fire. The week before I had chucked two tonnes of logs into his wood shed, great exercise for me!


Then I went to see another gentleman, the same man as my first morning visit to walk his dog. It's always just me and the dog in the evening. Once back I prompt him to have his evening medication, check all the doors are locked, take his shoes and socks off and put his slippers on, and sit down and have a brew and. chat. This evening I also always get his dressing gown out ready for the morning, to remind him that I'll help him to have a shower in the morning so don't get dressed. This system works really well. It took many a month for him to allow me to help him have a shower, it's only about being there incase he falls mainly and to do socks and shoes (we help so many people with socks and shoes, they get quite hard to reach the older you get). Not everyone is open to the idea of having help, even when it's clearly needed. Often you need to have lots of patience, focus on building a relationship and then you can sow the idea of what needs doing.


Between visits I also took a phone call from a son of a gentlemen we see. That gentlemen is currently in hospital and I am co-ordinating a discharge for him. He has very firm wishes he wants to come back home, but at 101 years old, every day spent in bed in hospital is a day too many. `On speaking to his son, he asked if I had met his sister who orders the shopping, I had met her for the first time this week as I picked her up from the train station and took her to he hospital to visit her dad. I also took her and her brother to visit a local care home so they can make an informed decision. I've also found a live in carer (a self employed one who is a member of the Professional Carers Network) that has availability and this looks like the preferred option. Because part of providing good care is to recognise when we can't provide the care! His needs have become too much for our care service, so we then need to find other solutions for him which meets his wishes as well as keeping him safe.


The next job for me is to then head back down to the horses and goats and pop them to bed. I always include a visit to them in my evening run!


Then the last job is to pop back to E and put her warm pjs on, administer meds, have a brew and chat about the day. For a little while there were a few times I got to E a bit later than normal, and she always knew it was because the goats had misbehaved. This always gives her great pleasure as she had warned me before I got them that they would be hard work as they are mischievous creatures. So she loves to hear about the latest goat antics! Here's an example of one of our mishaps, the time when girl goat got her head stuck in the hay feeder and I needed to source bolt cutters to chop her out!



Anyway E loves hearing about the mishaps and she has enjoyed a visit or two down to the farm. It brings back memories of earlier days and she does love to be able to say 'well I did tell you!".


Then I landed home.


So that day is just a snapshot of what a day as a self employed carer might look like. A bit of care, a few jobs, lots of chatting, a fair few cups of tea and leaving people feeling that bit happier.


Admittedly most carers might not have the random animal experiences to offer, but that is just me sharing my life with the people I support. As you build relationships and chat about life, you can't help but share aspects of your own life. The people you support enjoy getting to know you, as much as you enjoy getting to know them. So when it is possible to share parts of your life with them, you should make the effort to do so.


So I hope that answers the question as to what self employed carers do. The short answer is simple, we do anything that is needed!


If you know any carers that love variety and are fabulous at their job! Send them to the Professional Carers Network (www.professionalcarersnetwork.co.uk) and let's champion them to become self employed carers too!

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