This morning I was lucky enough to get the chance to spend some time at Eskgreen Care home, a residential property for the elderly in Musselburgh. This is the kind of location that students undertaking the Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare may spend their time in. The company itself has been around for some time – some of the residents’ grandparents also lived at Eskgreen! Consisting of twenty seven residents, it’s a large building with lots of character. All staff and residents were cheery as soon as I walked in the door, and were more than happy to sit down and have a chat. There were a lot of lovely displays around the place, making it seem welcoming and homely.
I began by sitting down with Dale Young, a senior member of staff within the care home, who gave me some information about her job. Her day begins by leading the handover. This is the information from the night staff’s shift that the day staff need to know, such as whether any of the residents had any issues throughout the night. Dale’s day then consists of answering emails and phone calls, helping out on the floor, and aiding in breakfast and lunch for the residents. Typically, the staff’s day tends to be around seven and a half hours long, with a half hour lunch break. I was surprised to hear this, as I had assumed anyone working in care would work long shifts, but Dale informed me that the staff generally work regular hours, albeit sometimes working during the night.
When asked how Dale got into this line of work, she informed me that she originally went to college for office work, but found it wasn’t her passion. She then moved on to working in a geriatric hospital, which she enjoyed, and eventually found herself back into office work. After a while, she found her new path, and went into the care profession, where she has been ever since. I asked Dale what her favourite part of the job was, and she told me that she enjoys how varied it is; no two days are the same, and every day is different. I certainly saw this even in the short time I was visiting – there was lots of activity, with residents waking up and starting their day, and the rota needing to be filled. There was lots to do , and the staff seemed to enjoy the challenge.
Fiona, a Social Care Worker at Eskgreen, was kind enough to answer some of my questions:
How did you get into the industry?
After working in an office environment, I became the main carer to my mother who was no longer able to live independently. During this time I developed an interest for working in a care environment. My experience began by working in a respite home, which catered for many complex issues, such as physical and mental health concerns. From there, I went to work for a company who offered individual living for people with learning difficulties. After doing this for many years, I realised I wished for a different career where I could work with older people.
What attracted you to a career in a Care Home?
After working solo in the community, the challenge of working with older people as part of a team seemed to be the right choice for me.
What does a typical day involve?
Firstly we have handover from the previous shift. After this, the residents are assisted with personal care. Then breakfast is served. Staff enjoy sitting and chatting to the residents during this time. Medication is administered and treatments are done. Residents that choose to partake are assisted with activities. Staff then spend time ensuring that the residents’ rooms are clean and tidy, and ensuring all residents are settled and comfortable. Residents know that we are available at all times for a chat. The emotional needs of our residents is the main thing that all staff are aware needs met; it is not all about everyday tasks. By late morning, residents are assisted to the dining room for lunch. Medication and treatments are carried out again. Staff then spend time updating each individual’s care plan and resident charts so that the next shift’s staff can proceed to continue the same high quality care.
What skills do you think people need to work with vulnerable people, such as those at Eskgreen?
You need to be patient, good at team work, a good communicator, empathetic, and a good listener, to work with vulnerable people.
What do students get out of having experience in a Care Home?
Students get to see first-hand the quality of care that the residents receive and they learn how rewarding the job can be. It is not just about personal hygiene, as a lot of people have the misconception that it is. There is much more to the job to discover.
What advice would you give to students wanting to get into a career like yours?
They should enjoy the experience, communicate well, be a good team player, be willing to learn hands on, and be willing to undertake training, as this is how you develop your own personal knowledge.
I’d like to take the time to thank the staff at Eskgreen Care Home for having me for the morning – it is greatly appreciated, especially on such a busy day! I’d especially like to thank Dale and Fiona for taking time out of their day to answer my questions. if you’d like to find out more about the Foundation Apprenticeships, check out our blog post about them here. If you’re interested in applying, speak to your guidance teacher for advice and/or an application form, and send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.