Senior care is a family affair · Home Instead Recruitment
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Name: Judith and Louise

Job Title: CAREGiver

After years spent working with children, Judith Whitehead swapped nurseries and classrooms to devote the last years of her career to elderly care.

The turning point in her professional path came when her dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, triggering a decision from the mum-of-two from Saddleworth, that led to a total job switch.

The new role working with Home Instead Senior Care not only had a positive effect on Judith - it proved life-changing for her 42-year-old niece as well.

Inspired by her aunt’s new vocation in life, Louise Kershaw – who had worked at Warburtons but wanted a fresh challenge – joined Home Instead too. She says a job in senior care is simply the best thing since sliced bread.

Judith’s life lesson

58-year-old Judith, qualified as a nursery nurse before getting her first job in the local primary school as a teaching assistant. It was her love of working with kids and passion for travel that saw her move to Spain to work as a children’s rep for four years.

When she came back to the UK, she made use of her childcare qualification working at a nursery school in the village she’d grown up in. She moved into retail management for a spell but still with children front of mind, working at an Early Learning Centre.

But it was her dad’s diagnosis and the negative experience her family had of care at that time – that proved the career catalyst for Judith to consider a job in the home care sector. Home care services help older people continue to live independently in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes as long as possible.

Judith said: “When dad was poorly, we wanted to bring him home so we could care for him as a family. The hospital told us to ‘stick him in a care home, you won’t be able to cope’. For us, it was more important that he wasn’t alone so we brought him home, but the care support we received was heart breaking. They didn’t have the time to care for him in the way that you want your loved one to be cared for. That experience triggered something in me and I knew that there was a better way. I knew that I could care for someone else’s loved one much better than my dad had been cared for.”

Empathy and compassion at the core of care

Judith became a CAREGiver with national care provider Home Instead Senior Care, which has a values-led approach to recruitment and provides home care as well as companionship during its visits, which are a minimum of one hour. It calls this approach relationship-led care and it sees clients and CAREGivers matched based on hobbies and interests, so there is always something in common. In turn it looks for people with empathy and compassion, not necessarily qualifications in care, to fill its jobs as all the training needed for the role is given.

Caregiving includes helping elderly clients with washing and dressing, help with housework, shopping or meal preparation but it also includes time to talk and enjoy conversations, trips out and about to museums, beauty spots or even to the cinema or a football match.

Judith has been a CAREGiver with Home Instead Senior Care for the last five years and cares for 12 elderly clients in and around the town she grew up in herself. Some of her clients have even known her since she was a child.

She says: “Most of my clients don’t even see me as their CAREGiver, it’s more like you are a very good friend. One client calls me her cleaning fairy, another one calls me her treasure! Visiting clients for a minimum of an hour means I’ve had time to build trust with them all. It really is a privilege to form the type of relationships that I have, especially when it’s with those who’ve played such a key role in our community.”

Louise swaps days stuck behind a computer for care

Joining Home Instead three years ago, Judith’s niece, 42-year-old Louise, saw the positive change in her aunt and decided to make caregiving a family affair.

Mum-of-two Louise spent 10 years at Manchester City Football Club after completing her Business Administration NVQ, working her way up from a placement on reception to Academy Secretary. She went on to secure a role at Warburtons bakery as a receptionist before taking a break from employment whilst her family were young. When her children were at school full time, she wanted to return to the workplace, but didn’t want to be office based.

She said: “I knew how much my auntie loved what she was doing. I needed something that was flexible that would work around the school run. But I wanted something that was a new challenge and totally different. I didn’t want to be sat staring at a computer for eight hours a day. Being a CAREGiver was a job that ticked all of those boxes.

“What better way to support our older generation than to keep them in their own home, and part of their local community, for as long as possible.

“You build a relationship that is based on so much trust, they become quite reliant on you. If you can do something, no matter how small, to make their day easier, then what we do is worthwhile.”

Working around 30 hours a week and looking after 10 clients, Louise is looking towards a long career with Home Instead. She says: “I’m not stuck behind a computer, I’m doing something that makes a difference and let’s be honest, what I’m doing isn’t really a job at all, it’s a privilege!”