Whether you work to care for the elderly, sick, vulnerable or children with learning difficulties, at some point during your career you might find yourself in a situation where you are replacing another carer or you’re new to the job and your face is unfamiliar. Although you’ll be consumed with the buzz of getting to know your new colleagues and those you’ll be caring for, these exciting situations may also fill you with anxiety.
If you feel uncomfortable or nervous, then don’t worry, this is completely normal and is common for any new starter, regardless of what type of job it is. Yet care is different. It’s a very people-centric profession and there’s a huge amount of trust involved. The care industry demands a lot more awareness, patience and consideration than other jobs out there.
One common concern for carers who are new to the industry, or those who are moving workplace, is that the initial relationship between themselves and those they’re caring for isn’t as smooth as they would like. This doesn’t happen every time, it’s not a formality, but it’s something that new carers or people moving employer should be aware of.
Although these situations may make you feel uncomfortable, you must always try to remember, respect and consider how the situation feels for those being care for. For many care home residents, vulnerable adults or children with learning difficulties, continuity is comforting, so try not to take offence if you can’t strike a rapport or get along immediately.
Caring is not a competition. Although standards and safety guidelines should always be followed, everyone has a different personality and style of caring. You can be inspired by others around you or by the carer’s you’re replacing but that doesn’t mean you have to be the carbon-copy. Do your thing, be yourself and give it time.
It might not be openly promoted but it’s natural for a carer to grow a soft spot for a particular resident or individual. The exact same feeling can be carried over and is even stronger for those who are being looked after in care. If they’ve created a special bond with a carer or a select few carers, and this is changed or taken away from them, then it’s bound to leave them unsettled. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be as deep as creating a bond, it could be as simple as familiarity, a feature that’s especially important for those who are deemed vulnerable or suffering from mental health issues.
As a carer you are taught to be patient, it comes with the territory, just like parenthood. Having patience when you work in a care home or children’s centre is fundamental, but being patient for acceptance can be a lot harder because it’s usually such a personal and emotive thing. You just need to put yourself in their shoes. It’s likely that many, especially those residing in care or nursing homes are old, suffering/recovering from an illness, fearful of the future, confused and feeling quite alone. So imagine a new face, a new voice and a new scent, walking into your room to provide care – it’s daunting.
If you are about to enter the care industry for the very first time, then it’s good to remain mindful about these possible situations. Sometimes you might have to earn the respect of the people you care for, yet this doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong or that you need to change your technique or the way you observe and record care plans, it simply means step with added caution and attentiveness.
Of course every person is different. Depending on the situation of the individual; whether they have dementia, mental health issues or suffer from depression, then the room for building a fruitful relationship may be limited. The overwhelming majority of the time a frosty reception can be put down to several factors, these may include: a disturbance to routine, an inability to adapt to change, a grudge (momentarily) against yourself because they miss the previous carer(s), they are still trying to work you out or a genuine misunderstanding of the situation (that when confused, can’t be helped).
If you are new to care and you find yourself in a situation where for no fault of your own you’re struggling to connect with the person or persons you care for, then please don’t panic, it’s more common than you think. Should you need guidance or support during any difficult moments, then try to speak to management directly, seek external advice or even browse the internet for help. Just reading and getting involved with groups such as Carers UK or communities found on websites like Mumsnet can provide you with comfort. Sometimes just knowing that thousands of other carers have experienced the same thing as you can be enough to settle worries.
As you get to know your colleagues as well as the dynamics of the workplace, you will soon be able to adjust and adapt accordingly. It’s also probable that you’ll get a ‘heads up’ regarding certain individuals or situations. If you are registered with Next Generation Care and you have any questions, queries or concerns that you’d like to speak about confidentially, then we welcome you to come forward because we are here to help.