Penny Washington - Care Assistant in a Care Home for the Elderly
We speak with Penny about her role as a care assistant in a residential home for the elderly and how the contribution she makes enhances both wellbeing and independence for the residents.
29th June 2011
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the role you’re working in at the moment?
I am female, married, 22 years old. I work as a care assistant in a residential home for the elderly assisting them with everyday tasks and activities.
You don’t have to give the exact name, but what kind of organisation do you work for?
A residential home for the elderly, some with dementia too.
When you got your first job after leaving school, it wasn’t within the care sector. What was it that attracted you to become a Care Assistant?
I enjoy spending time with people who may not have someone to talk to, I love going that extra mile to help someone who may not ask for help.
Your first Care Assistant job was as a night care assistant in a residential home. How well prepared were you for that role?
There were a few surprises but I knew roughly what i was going to do.
What was the most rewarding experience you had during that time which encouraged you to pursue your career as a care assistant?
Going that extra mile or inch for someone and it showing that it meant the world to them that someone cared enough for them.
You have also worked in a Community Care Assistant job. How did that differ from working in the residential home?
It differed greatly in my opinion, however the care was on the same level and some people do prefer the community care work. I found it to be a little hurried and rushed, but it was nice to see people in their own environment.
How do you feel you contribute to the quality of life for those people you help to care for?
Enormously, for some we are just a chat for others we become part of their everyday life. Some residents who don't have family and need that extra part of comfort, for others it is just to enable them to have a normal life and to carry on with their daily activities. I feel that we contribute to their quality of life by being a part of it no matter the size of involvement.
How important do you think it is that every member of staff in a residential home is constantly aware of the need to support independent living for the residents?
Vital, giving the resident the support for their own independence is a key part of their role within the home. The amount of support differs from person to person but even the smallest help can make an huge difference to the person getting it.
Is it a vital part of your working routine that you spend time interacting with the residents as well as providing essential care?
Absolutely, it allows them to feel connected. You can find out alot from someone by just talking to them, their likes, dislikes and you can build trust and even friendship.
I’m sure you’re aware of the recent Panorama investigation into a private residential facility. What’s you’re opinion of social care law in the UK, and is it strong enough to protect vulnerable people in the future?
I am not aware of the panorama investigation, however, I think the laws are strong enough but they have to be followed and strongly monitored so that they can be ammended or enforced more.
Would you encourage others to become a Care Assistant, and what kind of qualities do you think someone needs to have to be successful in the job?
I would as it is such a rewarding job and you need to be patient, relaxed, friendly, caring, professional, a good listener, a good imagination helps with activities and hobbies, to be a part of a team.