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How working as a respite and live-in carer has given me the flexibility I need

With three children and two grandchildren, it’s fair to say that care is a significant part of Wilma’s life. Having joined our customer services team in Alcester in 2016, she was part of the team supporting families to find the right level of home care. But there was something missing for her.

Wilma enjoys the flexibility of live-in care

“As the months went on, I was reading the stories about live-in carers and helping to put packages of care together for customers,” Wilma shares. “My heart would be going out to the customers who needed support. It was then that I thought, I could do that – I’d love to do that!”

The decision to do something different

In 2017, and at the age of 46, Wilma decided to move away from her computer screen and into supporting people directly. “The company is all about helping people, which is what I’m really passionate about, and at the time the admin role was perfect. But each customer’s story I saw, I thought to myself, ‘I’d love to be a carer’.

“My kids have now flown the nest so to speak, and I really missed looking after them. I’ve still got such a lot to give, so thought ‘Why not become a carer?’.”

The ball was then set in motion for getting Wilma fully trained at our training academy, also based in Alcester. She attended carer training, learning all about the safe use of hoists, diet and nutrition, first aid and administering medication, to name a few.

Wilma’s experience as a carer actually stretches further back than working at Helping Hands. Many years ago she was a visiting carer, working for another company.

“I moved around a lot back then as my husband was in the army,” Wilma explained. “For me at that time, I always felt that I was rushing with home visits, visiting different customers and sometimes for short periods.

“Being a live-in carer is totally different. You get so much time with the customer and within a couple of days, you just get it – you get to know them as a person, and fully understand what they need and how you can help.”

Picking the role of a respite carer

In the short time that Wilma has been working as a carer, she’s been receiving extra training and guidance for offering more advanced, clinical support.

Revelling in the flexibility of the role, she’s opted for being a respite carer. She’s one the many carers who are offering support to customers when their usual carer – or family caregiver – needs a break.

“I enjoy doing respite placements. Don’t get me wrong, the work can be challenging at times,” she revealed. “But I see my time there as a break for the other carer and a break for the customer, so I like to make my customers feel special. And they like me because I’m spoiling them!

“I went to one lady for just a few days to cover a very short break for her normal carer. When I arrived, the customer said, ‘Who are you? Get out of my house!’, but at the end of my time there it was all kisses and hugs. I’d made an impact, even during that short space of time.”

On another occasion, Wilma supported a student who was living in the halls accommodation at Falmouth University. “It was like living with five of my sons at 19!” Wilma joked, still clearly fond of the experience.

The flexibility to travel

One of the extra bonuses for Wilma is that she now has more time to travel. Having sold her house in Warwickshire, she carefully organises her time in between placements to visit family and friends or even go on holiday.

“You wouldn’t believe it, but I’ve been to Cornwall three times, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife… And that’s just in 6 months!” she said with a bright smile.

“I love the work-life balance. I think it’s important to really relax between placements. You can then come back full of energy and positivity, and that rubs off on your customers.”

Could you be a carer like Wilma?

We’re always on the lookout for new carers to join our team, and no experience is necessary as we provide full training and ongoing support.

Some, like Wilma, have previous experience in care, while others have been unofficially caring for others or just feel the urge for a more fulfilling work-life. Get in touch with our team to find out more.

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