At Ingla, we’re very proud of our alumni. There’s nothing that warms our heart more than seeing someone progress from having a low level of English, to being a confident speaker who can live independently and work in the UK. Watching that transformation, as a teacher and a friend, is priceless. Today, we’re going to interview Ela, a former student and an Ingla success story, about what the responsibilities of a care assistant are. We're going to answer the question: What does a carer do in the UK?
Carers have been in the news a lot lately, whether it’s because of the Clap for Carers initiative, which encouraged people in the UK to step outside their front door and acknowledge carers’ great work by clapping publicly for them, or because of National Carers Week, a week-long celebration of carers great work. But what exactly does a carer do? What are their responsibilities? What is a day in the life like for a carer? In our candid interview Ela answered all these questions and more.
Q: What made you want to become a carer? How did you choose this job?
A: I never thought this job was an option for me as I had no medical background. I was out with my friends when one of them asked me if I was still looking for a job. She was working for a guy with quadriplegia and they were looking for someone to join their team. I was fed up with my old job anyway so I took the chance. I applied for the position and was accepted. I was then sent to the company’s training centre to do a week-long comprehensive induction training specialising in spinal cord injuries. A month later after some shadow shifts I started my job.
Q: What is your daily routine as a carer like?
A: Since I took on the challenge I’ve worked with different clients (as we call our patients), in different settings, with different disabilities and different routines. Shift hours vary with every client depending on their needs. With some clients you work 8am to 8pm and 8pm to 8am shifts. With others you stay for longer, 48 hours to 168 hours, but it can be anything. During the shift you help clients with personal care, manage their bladder and bowels, nutrition and medication, respiratory/saliva, sensory escalation, seizures, diabetes, therapies, moving and hoisting etc. and the fun bit – social life. You get to go to places, football matches, theatres, nights out, barbecues with a client’s family or friends, or even a holiday in Cuba for 3 weeks.
The main job of a carer is to keep their clients safe and happy, you cannot risk coming to work with a hangover or being unprepared, you have to be on alert, ready to act in case of emergency situations.
Q: What is the most challenging or difficult part of the job?
A: It’s very stressful when your client is in danger, for example a catheter blockage, feed blockage, aspiration, autonomic dysreflexia, or any other trouble, and you have to act promptly.
Also, on a bigger level, not being supported. When issues get ignored, and you just watch your vulnerable client suffer, when there could be help.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a carer?
A: When you know you helped someone, when you get a smile from your client, when you make a client’s family happy and you know you made their lives easier because their loved one is being given good care.
Q: Can you tell us about an important moment, event or day as a carer that made you feel good?
I think I have quite a few. For example, when I worked with one couple with a learning disability, I helped them with their front garden. I went to buy some bedding plants and planted them as a surprise. They were jumping for joy and clapping their hands, hugging me. That really felt good to see how happy I had made them.
Q: What would you tell people who are thinking of becoming a carer in the UK?
That it’s a good career choice. It can be very well paid, and there are opportunities for career growth – look for companies that prompt their employees to do an NVQ or offer paid certificates. You can get excellent employee benefits with the right company. And you get to meet some inspiring people.
If you want to be an inspiring person too, and you are willing to take on big responsibilities, maybe being a carer is the right choice for you. Your daily routine will be hectic and there’s a lot of hard work involved, but the rewards are amazing.
For more advice from Ingla on jobs, and personal stories about work, check out our blogs, Living and Working in a Foreign Language (about working abroad) and The Best Job I Ever Had (about some great work experiences). To improve your employability and skills have a look at our blog on apprenticeships or consider taking a class at Ingla in business English or improving your job search skills with English for Work.
Test your Vocabulary!
For each word in bold in article choose whether option 1 or 2 is the right definition
- (plural noun) former students of a school, college or university
- (plural noun) for employees of a company
- (adj.) something that has no value
- (adj.) something that is extremely valuable
- (noun) a plan or a strategy, a fresh approach to something
- (noun) a festival or celebration
- (verb) show that you recognise the importance of somebody / something
- (verb) teach somebody, give them knowledge
- (adj.) showing your skills and abilities
- (adj.) truthful and straightforward
- Fed up
- (phrasal v.) annoyed, unhappy or bored with a situation
- (phrasal v.) uninterested
- (adj.) including or dealing with nearly all aspects of something
- (adj.) reviewing content you’d already studied before
- (adj./v.) work that’s done at night
- (adj./v.) to follow an experienced worker to learn how to do a job
- Take on
- (phrasal v.) finish something difficult
- (phrasal v.) to accept new responsibilities or work
- (adv.) with little or no delay, immediately
- (adv.) to do something nervously, panicked