Those who have worked in care industry for a while now, know that this is not a job that you should do just for money. It’s an extremely rewarding profession, but it requires patience, dedication, a lot of compassion and a lot of sacrifice. Sometimes it means that when majority of people get to have dinners with their families or enjoy a lazy Sunday in front of television, we march to work to make sure that those who are most vulnerable are well looked after and can feel loved and safe. It’s a very important task, especially at Christmas time, as it’s often during this period that people we care for need us the most.
Every year thousands of dedicated care and social care workers give up their personal plans to come to work. If this Christmas you’re one of those remarkable people, I’d like to offer you few tips and reminders on how to make sure that those in need, your co-workers, but also you have a very special time, while doing the best job possible!
PLAN AND PREPARE
Once you’ve agreed to work during the holidays, make sure you speak to your family about what this means and make them aware that you will have less time to help at home and spend time with them. Sometimes our loved ones can lack understanding of how demanding, but also how important the job that we do is and might be upset or offended by the fact that you’d rather be at work than with them. It’s a lot of stress you do not need!
Even though working when everyone else seems to be having a break and a great time can be very difficult, it’s worth remembering that you’re lucky to be a part of the industry that focuses on people. At the end of the day, isn’t Christmas all about getting together and sharing joy with others? On your way to work, you could listen to some festive songs to put you in a good mood and when you get there, just enjoy the fact that you get to make someone smile and brighten their day. Sometimes they might not be in the mood for it, so it’s important that you don’t get discouraged and keep your spirits up. You are doing a good deed and making a difference!
KEEP BUSY, BUT NOT TOO BUSY…
As much as for most people it’s important to stay active and occupied, there are also those that can be overwhelmed by all the commotion happening around them during Christmas time. You should make sure that you adjust your planned activities to the needs and wants of those you care for and their families. Alzheimer’s Society prepared a short video (https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/christmas) about how people with dementia feel during Christmas, that might be worth familiarizing yourself with.
If you support people in their homes, make sure you discuss their expectations of your involvement in their celebrations beforehand.
If you work in a care home, always offer tenants/residents choice of what they would like to participate in.
TALK TO OTHER CARERS
Stay in touch with your colleagues and don’t be afraid to ask for support if needed. Sometimes people you look after can be difficult and their behaviours or attitude challenging. It’s important that you stay calm and relaxed. You can always turn to another carer for advice and help, maybe ask if they could relief you from your shift for a moment, so you can take a quick break, or if you work alone, try and speak to them beforehand to share experiences and know that you’ve got people that stand by you and appreciate the work you do. Also, be ready to return the favour!
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF JUST AS WELL AS YOU LOOK AFTER OTHERS
Make sure you stay warm and healthy. Winter is a perfect season for viruses and infections to spread and attack, especially elderly and those with weak immune systems. Due to your work environment, do whatever you can to keep well and full of energy for this demanding time of the year. Remember that people rely on you and need your support and company!