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A brave frontline carer shares her story of providing round the clock care

Careworker Carolyn Panton is a live-in carer for Trinity Homecare currently based in Woking in Surrey. Originally from South Africa, Carolyn now lives in the UK. She divides her time between the UK and South Africa and has been a carer working for Trinity Homecare for the past four years.

As a former restaurant owner and qualified chef, Carolyn Panton, 61, was keen to change her lifestyle and sought a different kind of challenge.

TrinityCarer – Carolyn

I felt the need to do something else with my life. After running my own restaurant business for many years, I fancied a complete change of direction and wanted to focus on a career that allowed me to help others as well as being more in line with the type of person that I am.

Carolyn’s decision to work in the care industry was greatly influenced by her grandparents in South Africa, who looked after abused children, helping to provide a safer and happier upbringing.

Caring for Multiple Sclerosis

Carolyn cares for Sue, who lives in her own home in Woking with her husband, Alan, and has been providing live-in care for over two months, alongside another Trinity carer. Sue is disabled, suffering from multiple sclerosis so has complex caring needs which require round the clock care.

“It’s important to establish a routine that works for the client. That’s why I feel live-in care works so well as it means that a routine can be established that is geared around Sue’s needs. Unlike being in a traditional care home where there are multiple people to care for and less flexibility in approach, we can easily adapt as needs change. So while we do have a good routine in place, we can alter this without causing any disruption. It is one of the real benefits of live-in care offered by Trinity Homecare.”

The perfect role that uses all of your skills

Although Carolyn came to being a carer relatively late in life (in her fifties), she believes it’s the perfect role for her:

“I’ve always been a caring, people person and I find looking after others very rewarding. My previous experience as a chef also comes in handy, and I have enjoyed meal preparation with some of the clients I’ve looked after over the past four years. Sue has complex feeding needs due to her multiple sclerosis, so this is less of a requirement now, but the patients I’ve cooked for certainly seem to enjoy my food.”

Carolyn uses her cooking skills from her previous job as a restaurant owner

In her four years as a carer, Carolyn has only ever provided live-in care, caring for seven people in that time. She adds:

“Live-in care provision is what appeals to me, and I was impressed with the way that Trinity Homecare had a comprehensive framework in place which focuses on the needs of the patient. I must get to know who I’m caring for as providing live-in care is a huge commitment. You also not only get to know the person you’re caring for but also their family and friends. They come to trust you and particularly at a time like this during the Coronavirus crisis when contact has to be severely restricted to ensure safety is maintained at all times. In terms of caring for Sue, with no physical visits or contact from Sue’s family and friends, this means they rely on me to provide 24/7 care and to keep them informed of how she’s getting on. At such a difficult time, this is very reassuring for Sue’s family, and they don’t have the same concerns that they would have if she was in a care or nursing home, where it is far more challenging to control aspects such as effective social distancing.”

The challenge facing care and nursing homes around the UK – COVID-19

The challenge facing care and nursing homes around the UK is one that concerns Carolyn greatly, and she believes that care staff working in those establishments are facing the biggest test of their lives.

“What we’re seeing happening at care homes is extremely sad as care providers are doing their best under extremely testing circumstances. And with multiple residents to care for, controlling the spread of infection and limiting the amount of contact is relentless.  It is one of the major benefits of providing live-in care. Thankfully, I also don’t have any problems with the supply of PPE or medical supplies, thanks to the network of the provision from Trinity Homecare, which again provides reassurances to Sue and her family.”

With Sue’s live-in care programme and following consultations with Carolyn, Trinity Homecare decided to make amendments to staff breaks to limit client and carer contact. The move was introduced early on in the lockdown period and has similarly been put in place for the protection of many other Trinity Homecare live-in care patients. A recent review of data from the live-in care sector showed that amongst 2,500 adults with live-in care, there was only one confirmed case of COVID-19 and one suspected case by the end of March.

“Being a live-in carer is the most rewarding job”

Despite the considerable level of personal commitment, Carolyn states she wouldn’t have it any other way:

“Being a live-in carer is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had, and it is great to be able to give something back, particularly in the current situation we all find ourselves in. I have great support, and I know that eventually, I will be able to take a nice long break and go home and recharge my batteries before I begin a new care assignment.  Yes, it does have its challenges, and although it may feel like my life is on hold for a short time, I know that I am prioritising someone else’s greater needs over my own and giving peace of mind to loved ones.

“I’ve also met the most amazing people over the past four years and made some dear friends. I also love it that many of the families of people I cared for when I first started still keep in touch and update me on how their relatives are doing. It makes me feel like part of the family. You certainly don’t get that level of job satisfaction from running your own restaurant!”