Thursday nights have been classed as the new ‘out out’ as communities gear up to step outside for the big clap at 8pm. As a mark of respect for the amazing work the NHS and Key Workers are doing, the applause touches those who have been helping vulnerable people on the front line. Yet, I can’t help but notice that care workers aren’t getting the recognition they deserve.
I have come here to cast a fresh perspective on the rather notoriously ‘unglamorous’ occupation of being a social care worker. It is hard to restrain our minds from immediately associating care work with ‘wiping old arse’ as Jay from the Inbetweeners courteously put it, or from thinking that care work involves shouting very loudly in the ear of an extremely deaf elderly woman. Granted – these are of course things that might be involved as part of the usual carers’ duties alongside other fundamentals of personal care.
“When looking to get myself a part-time job, I never thought of venturing into social care.”
I was certainly guilty of initially creating this idea of what care work was in my head and regrettably belittled the thought of a caring job. When looking to get myself a part-time job, I never thought of venturing into social care. But since…yes it MUST be mentioned… the bleeding coronavirus came about, I noticed that the majority of job advertisements surrounding my local area were care related.
Now, one month in and I am a carer. Yes, I have wiped old arse; yes, I have yelled into the ear of an extremely deaf woman; yes, I have stripped down men and women to wash them. But these are some of the tasks we practice on a daily basis and are incidentally the minor tasks involved with care work.
Protector, guardian and godparent are all synonyms for carer. These are instrumental persons who help people feel secure and safe, but also ensure people receive the genuine human connection and relationships we all need. Many patients have dementia, so it is often a case of reassurance, sticking to routines and making them the perfect cup of tea. For other patients who are visited in their private homes, carers are the only people they might see in a day, and sometimes even a week.
I suppose what I am trying to get across is that there is more to care work beyond the hands-on, physicality of the role. Despite the long hours and sometimes emotional visits, care staff try their utmost best to give people the independence and vitality they once had. My eyes have been opened into a completely new part of our society. I urge people to look beyond those part-time catering jobs that are sought after during the holidays and instead maybe look to shadow a carer for a day. The hours are flexible, and the job is utterly rewarding.
By Jemima Erith
Illustrations by Tara Pertwee: www.tarapertwee.com/