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Are we expecting too much?
This month I welcomed the Cavendish report which reviewed the role of Support Workers in social care. The independent report, written by journalist Camilla Cavendish, comments “the phrase ‘basic care’ dramatically understates the work of this group”, and it is this report that has prompted me to reminisce about the good old days of social care when care tasks really were basic, and a cup of tea and egg on toast might have been the most complex of tasks.
I despair when I read some of the Care and Support Plans that are produced these days. For instance, last week a social worker amended a care plan to include ‘administer eye drops’. Seems simple enough. A review and Assessment officer was dispatched from my team to change the paperwork and include the instruction in our own Care Plan.
On her return she came to see me with a list of directives for the eyedrops: There are two different sets of eyedrops. Both with long names. One must be given in the morning in the left eye. In the evening both drops must be given in both eyes, 3 minutes apart.
I asked why you have to wait? She explained that you prompt in both eyes with one set of drops then wait three minutes between prompting the second lot of drops. And you have to get the order right between drops a and b.
Between the two of us we typed a reminder sheet with clear step by step instructions in big bold type. We contacted the regular Carers and advised them and offered to demonstrate if they were unsure. We laminated a copy of the A4 reminder sheet and placed a copy in the Care Plan and a copy in the Daily Report book. A second visit to the home was arranged to put the paperwork in place.
What I had thought to be a simple instruction clearly was not. And I wondered if I struggle to comprehend these instructions, I wonder how on earth some of our care and support staff cope?
My heart goes out to these Carers. They are usually working alone, usually on foot, and usually in the rain! It a tough job and Cavendish’s report highlights that they do not get the recognition they deserve. We must raise the profile of Social Care Workers nationally.
There is so much expected of our Care Workers now, much of which would have been more appropriate for a District Nurse 10 years ago. As demand for Homecare increases year on year, with increasing complexity of conditions and coupled with a cut in the District nursing team, I fear the expectations on our Homecare Workers will only increase.