Article by Chloe Michel
Work life balance is something that eludes most of us throughout our thirties and forties, while we’re often juggling a young family, work and a bustling household. It’s tricky to take a step back and find the breathing space to seek out a career that’s rewarding, as well as allowing time for ourselves, to pursue a hobby or indulge our wanderlust. As family situations change, we often feel ready for a new challenge and yearn to move away from the 9 to 5. One interesting option is to become a live-in carer looking after the elderly in their own home. Not only is this a unique, extremely rewarding and flexible choice, it’s one where life experience is a virtue, rather than something that counts against you.
Live-in homecare is a long-established, little-known but increasingly popular alternative to residential care, which involves living in a person’s home providing 24/7 care and companionship. Assignments vary in length depending on client needs.
Live in carer role works well for those who want to combine with travel
The role often works well for people who are interested in combining caring with seeing family or travelling. Jane Montana (55) was the first person to set up a B&B in a Mongolian yurt, worked in fashion in London, is a Cordon Bleu cook, ran her own vegetarian café, trained in woodland management, is an accomplished garden designer and has studied inter-faith ministry. Now she has found true job satisfaction: she has been working as a live-in carer for five years and believes she has found a role that fits in perfectly with her energy and enthusiasm for care. Jane combines this with a passion for travelling – jetting off to countries like New Zealand, Mongolia and Nepal between assignments. Jane says: “All my clients have been fantastic. One of the joys of this job is the variety and the travelling.”
You have to be a highly dedicated, compassionate person; someone with a special balance of resilience and reliability, combined with sociability, good humour and common sense. Carers provide essential assistance with washing, dressing, preparing meals, medication and housekeeping, as well as providing vital companionship; someone to talk and laugh with can make a world of difference. Previous experience is not always required, but some carers or nurses are also trained to cope with particular conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, MS or palliative care. Carers receive good rates of pay, ongoing professional development and board and lodging.
South African born Jenny Gaynham (72) previously worked in hospitality and turned to live-in homecare as a career 26 years ago when her family left home for the UK. She followed them and now balances her year with trips back to her home town of Hermanus on the Western Cape during the winter months. Jenny says that it’s the people who keep her motivated and passionate about the job: “Gorgeous people, the ancient Brits, I love them to bits! They are so interesting and interested. If you can just make someone’s day happy for a while – taking them out for fish and chips or to the garden centre – it makes it so worthwhile.”
Interested in finding out more? The Live-in Homecare Information Hub has been set up especially to raise awareness of live-in homecare. More about caring as a career can be found here: http://stayinmyhome.co.uk/caring-as-a-career/
Jane and Jenny work with Consultus Care and Nursing which is a founding member of The Live-in Homecare Information Hub.