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At Carers First, we are privileged to have many experienced, skilled and dedicated individuals as part of our team. Retired employee, Sheila Hewson, has shared her experience about about working for us and supporting carers.    

Sheila's story:

I joined Carers First in June 2016, when Carers First were awarded the carers contract for Lincolnshire.

I can’t tell you how much I have loved my job. I have learned so much from ‘my’ carers and about myself too. I feel very proud to have worked for Carers First.

I truly believe this role needs more than just the formal training, there’s something indefinable, let’s just call it ‘Heart’, that makes the real difference. Having said that, Carers First provide excellent induction and ongoing training for their staff to ensure they can develop their skills and refresh them on an ongoing basis.

Two of the most important of these skills are listening and observation; this is where face to face contact can be so important. In the home environment you can pick up so much non-verbal information by looking and listening.

We have to build up a rapport with our carers more quickly than you would in almost any other social situation, and help them to tell us honestly, how they are, how the caring role impacts them, and where they think their problems or issues lie. This is deeply personal information that we encourage them to impart to someone they hardly know, so you need to make them feel comfortable and at ease with you for this to happen. This is the foundation of all future contacts between Carers First and the carer and is the basis of supporting, informing, signposting and helping the carer to access the support, from ourselves, or other organisations they are entitled to and ensure they can access benefits, and other things they may be entitled to, which can make their role easier to manage. You don’t know what you don’t know, and it’s a shame people miss out on support due to not knowing how to access it.

I have laughed, cried, empathised and at times had to be brutally honest with so many carers over the years. I feel privileged that they have trusted me with their deepest thoughts, and shared both the joys and the grief they experience in their journey. Hugs are free of charge and can make a real difference to a lonely and isolated carer, who doesn’t feel appreciated or loved, just that they are a dogsbody.

My speciality area of support has been dementia carers. Sadly, this doesn’t have a ‘happy-ever-after’ ending, however, it can be rewarding when you have shown the carer that they have done the very best they can for the person they care for, and for themselves. There are times when your best is all you have, so it is always enough under those circumstances. It is important that carers can look back on this time and not have regrets or carry guilt with them.

I consider every one of the carers I have supported to be a real-life Hero, without the cape!

There are no paid holidays, or overtime, or bank holidays, or bonuses or sick pay for carers, they do it for love and for duty. Often their own health suffers directly because of the caring role, and I can genuinely say at least three of the carers I have supported were struggling immensely and have said to me later on that I saved them. That is emotional to write down, but true.

All this was only possible due to the team around me, as well as my own personal resources. I have always felt supported and have had people who I could talk things through with, or ask advice from, when I too felt the pressure of caring a little too much.

My immediate team, my manager, locality manager and above have always been there whenever I have needed it, as I have been for them.

I would say to anyone who wants a challenging, satisfying, fulfilling job which they can use their own initiative and be flexible to suit their circumstances, Carers First could be the place for you!

It’s been more than a job for me, it’s been one of the best experiences of my life.

We have a wide range of roles supporting the charity to reach and support as many carers as possible so, if you want to join our mission, please take a look at our current vacancies.