What’s it really like to be a carer for Seniors Helping Seniors?
“Rewarding”, “flexible” and “a pleasure” – some of the words and phrases used by our carers to describe the work they do for Seniors Helping Seniors.
Our carers (or ‘providers’, as we tend to call them) come from a diverse range of backgrounds, bringing with them a wealth of different life experiences, and their reasons for wanting to join our team are varied too. For some, it’s a desire to stay engaged in regular activity after finishing full-time work; you may sympathise with one provider who says he “failed to ‘retire’ as I need to be active and somehow contribute.” Others believe that they can bring real value to clients by putting particular skills to use: “I’m naturally a practical person, and I knew I could be ‘of use’ to do jobs, or go to places that maybe aren’t too easy for a senior to get to alone anymore.” What all of our providers do have in common, though, is a keen desire to help – “to do things that put a smile on somebody’s face!”
Just as our providers themselves are varied, so too is the work itself. Some clients are seeking practical support: “I regularly take a husband and wife to medical appointments, both to a local surgery and a general hospital. Often this is followed up by a trip to the local supermarket. Once you get to know your clients, you start to provide customised care to the needs they have, which I think is appreciated.”
Other clients really desire companionship: “I visit a wonderful lady in her late 80s. Considering all of her medical issues, she is such a pleasure to be with. We chat, sometimes go out, but generally we laugh and talk so much that my hour often overruns! She’s a very interesting lady, and has a lot of interesting stories and knowledge of current affairs to talk about.”
The personal connection between a client and provider is really key, and we take care to match people who we think will enjoy each other’s company, holding a preliminary meeting between the two before any work is carried out. This is something our providers really value: “The concept of having both a client and carer benefitting from this form of contact seems very different from the usual [caring] arrangements. It allows for mutually beneficial relationships to be created.” Another provider is in complete agreement: “If for any reason my client’s social diary is ‘too busy’ for my visit, I really miss seeing her. We have become good friends.”
The flexible nature of the service Seniors Helping Seniors provides is an important feature for both clients and providers – although not one without its challenges. One provider acknowledges that the work “fits in well with my semi-retirement, however I do feel guilty if I’m unable to attend, due to my own family or personal commitments. I don’t like to disappoint.” Another concurs: “If you have regular clients but irregular hours, you do need to be flexible, but that can be part of the enjoyment of the job.” Aside from this, our providers struggled to list other downsides to the work, apart from “leaving a client after a visit when you’re having such a good time yourself”!
So, if you are considering becoming a provider for Seniors Helping Seniors, what advice would our team give you? One stresses the importance of empathy: “Think carefully about why a client would like this service and whether you’d be happy to help deliver this. It’s extremely rewarding for those who understand the needs of their clients.” Another offers some practical advice: “Be flexible – no two visits for the same client are ever the same. Be prepared – you never know when a bottle of water or a packet of tissues will come in handy! Above all, enjoy yourself and make your visits interesting and fun for both of you.”
If our team’s experiences have tempted you to find out more, please see the contact details on our Want to Help? page. We’d love to hear from you.