What it's like to be a carer at Newcross Care Home, Wolverhampton
Every day Elizabeth Whitehouse goes to work ready to offer a friendly face, a listening ear and a helping hand.
As a senior carer, she supports elderly people with their daily activities enabling them to live as independently as possible.
"I enjoy coming to work to help the residents live their lives and do their daily tasks. I love hearing their life history and the stories the residents tell us about when they were younger," says the 23-year-old.
She has been working at Newcross Care Home, run by Avery Healthcare, in Wolverhampton since starting a health and social care apprenticeship in August 2012.
It was a natural career path for Elizabeth who lives in Walsall as she already had first-hand experience caring for members of her family.
"I have always been interested in a care career since I was little and have loved looking after my younger sister who has learning difficulties, and helping to look after my nan, and my mum and grandad who have now passed.
"When I was in sixth form I heard about an apprenticeship in care at Newcross Care Home as I preferred to work and learn at the same time.
"I came for an interview and was pleased when they offered me the apprenticeship," explains Elizabeth.
She faced a major challenge during her training, as her mother sadly passed away. This made Elizabeth question her ability to cope and manage day-to-day life whilst grieving herself and supporting the rest of her family.
However, with the encouragement of the teams at Avery Healthcare and Qube Learning as well as her own passion and determination, she went on to complete her apprenticeship.
Since starting her training she has gained a number of qualifications including NVQs with Qube Learning in hospitality services and health and social care and management, at levels 2 and 3.
Her career has gone from strength to strength and she has built up a vast amount of knowledge and practical experience during her time in the role.
Elizabeth is now a unit manager at the care home, which provides residential, dementia and respite care, on Prestwood Road, Fallings Park.
Newcross is always a hive of activity with staff running a seven-day schedule of activities to stimulate both the mind and body including knitting, bowling, music, singing and gardening.
It also plays host to many visitors including a church group which comes in once a week and children from local schools join staff and residents to chat and swap inter-generational gossip.
A typical day for Elizabeth starts when she gets up at 6.30am. "Shifts start at 8am however I am here 10-15 minutes early for handover and to greet the residents who are already up.
"Medication and breakfast are done for approximately 10am. Games and activities with the staff and the wellbeing team, to keep the residents motivated and able, follow with a cup of tea or a smoothie.
"Morning paperwork is checked to ensure it is all up to date and correct. Lunch is served from 1pm and after lunch there are more activities and motivation with tea, cakes and biscuits. Afternoon time is spent chatting to the residents about their day.
"Tea is served at 5pm and later on there is a supper trolley to finish the lovely day before the night staff come on," explains Elizabeth, who has the long-term goal of becoming a care home manager.
As well as finding spending time with the residents rewarding, Elizabeth says her colleagues also make it a very pleasant place to work.
"I enjoy coming to work with all the staff who are bright and happy spirited even when there are other things going on. I also enjoy getting to spend the time with the residents and getting to know their likes, dislikes and preference," she tells us.
Last year Elizabeth won the ‘Outstanding Achiever’ Award at Qube Learning’s 2017 ‘Inspirational Learning’ awards, held at the iconic Waldorf Hotel in Central London.
She said she was 'proud' to receive the award after being praised for her hard work and dedication.
Speaking at the time, Avery’s regional support manager, Rita Flanagan, congratulated her, saying: “We are extremely proud of Elizabeth’s achievement and recognition, and her continuing hard work that makes our Newcross residents feel truly at home. She thoroughly deserved to win this award.”
Working with elderly residents, especially during their final stages of life, means there can be many sad moments as well as the happy ones.
"Working in this environment there are also challenges that we face when we look after residents, who become very poorly and are with us for end of life care.
"When making bonds with the residents you can feel a little upset but we know we have done the best for them while they were here.
"The team work, help and support from staff, management and families helps us to complete tasks daily," explains Elizabeth.
Her role brings great job satisfaction and the feeling of knowing that she has made a difference. “I love building a connection with residents, understanding their personal histories and in turn becoming a part of their lives today.
"It is important to show compassion and care for people at the home and allow them to feel completely safe and at ease in their environment,” says Elizabeth.
*For more information on how an apprenticeship could kick start your career visit www.qube-learning.co.uk