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Laura has worked on elderly wards and care homes but believes live-in care to be the most effective

Laura Hughes is an experienced live-in carer. She’s worked for Trinity Homecare since 2011 and has cared for around 30 different people in that time. A keen traveller who’s visited some of the best places in the world, Laura says that being a live-in carer is the perfect job for her and allows her to indulge her passion for travelling when she’s not busy caring.

Originally from Cardiff, Laura, 35, is currently based in Epsom, working as a live-in carer for Jane. Laura took on the role of carer for Jane in her flat in March, just before the Coronavirus lockdown. Jane, who is in her eighties, has dementia amongst other illnesses and is almost permanently bed bound.

With a degree in psychology, Laura has worked on all sides of elderly care provision from hospital wards to nursing homes. However, she prefers working as a live-in carer and has specialised in this type of care since starting with Trinity Homecare nine years ago.

Laura says: “I never even knew live-in care existed until I came across Trinity Homecare, but after giving it a go, I knew it suited my lifestyle perfectly. Providing one-to-one, around the clock support within the comfort of your own home, it significantly reduces interactions between people compared to care homes and effectively enables self-isolation and shielding. Live-in care enables the most vulnerable to be safe in their own home, and this is especially the case at the moment during the Covid-19 crisis.

Laura states that she has always been interested in caring for people and she particularly enjoys working with older people. Many carers are wary of working with the elderly as it can often be very challenging, but Laura says that working with older people has opened her eyes to what the world has to offer. Laura had a very close relationship with her grandmother and attributed her fondness of spending time with older people to this.

I love chatting with people about places they’ve visited and the sights they’ve seen. It helps them with memories and is a great activity to do especially with people with dementia. They enjoy talking about their travels and often discuss all the places they would love to have visited, sometimes expressing regret about places they didn’t get to see. It just further fuels my passion for travel, and I intend to see all the places that appeal to me. I’ve learned so much from caring for older people and they have so much to give.”

“I regularly spend time going through old photographs with Jane as part of her daily routine, helping her to reminisce about her past and bringing back happy memories. It’s a lovely activity to do together, and we both get so much out of it. I’ve enjoyed doing this with previous people I’ve cared for too, and it’s great therapy.”

Laura travelling, whilst doing charitable work for Alzheimer’s Research UK

Being such a keen traveller, Laura believes that working as a live-in carer offers the perfect career choice for her:

My job allows me to travel and see places as it means I’m not tied to living in one place in the UK. I live in the home of the person I’m caring for so once this comes to an end, I’m free to take some time off and go travelling for a month or two. I can then return and start again, providing live-in care for another client. I’m hoping to go to Asia later this year taking in Vietnam and the Philippines, but until then I will be Jane’s live-in carer, and she is my sole priority.”

Live-in Care as an alternative to a care home during COVID-19

As an experienced carer, Laura says that live-in care provides a safe and cost-effective alternative to a care home, at a time when the risks of cross-transmission within care and nursing homes are of great concern. Trinity Homecare provides a single or rotating live-in care worker which mitigates these risks at a comparable price to a nursing home bed.

She says: “Live-in care is more important than it’s ever been before, helping with hospital discharges during COVID-19, it enables the most vulnerable like Jane to be cared for within the comfort of their own home. It is also helping to effectively release pressure on other healthcare services as it provides a viable alternative to residential and nursing care that can help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 further and reduce the burden on the NHS.”

Becoming a live-in carer requires great commitment and dedication, but Laura says that no two days are ever the same. It’s important to get a routine in place to cover everything from mealtimes, medication, exercise, leisure activities, relaxation, and personal care. Laura needs to factor other elements into this schedule such as shopping, cleaning and other domestic chores around the house, ensuring Jane’s home is safe and clean.

Laura adds: “Having worked in care homes and on wards, I can safely say that live-in care is the most rewarding form of care I’ve experienced. It’s much more relaxed, and there is time to do things like relax and cook properly for Jane and me. Live-in care provides flexibility and freedom at the client’s pace rather than the carer’s pace. In a care home with more people to look after there is less time to do this, and it’s hard to ensure that every single need is addressed. For me, I can structure everything around Jane and having such flexibility and freedom, which is all fully supported by Trinity Healthcare, this allows me to deliver the best quality one-to-one care.

Providing reassurance and companionship

“I like to be able to provide companionship to Jane, I see myself much more than her live-in carer and I like to think she doesn’t just see me as her carer. We’ve built up a real bond in the short but intense period we’ve been together, and this helps to make things much easier and also provides the reassurances that Jane’s family is looking for.”

Offering reassurance and peace of mind is of great importance to Laura and the people that she looks after.

“Jane’s family are in contact with me regularly, and they need to know she is well cared for, particularly at the moment when so many people are concerned about vulnerable, elderly loved ones. I like to be able to provide the reassurances that Jane’s family needs as it is difficult when they can’t visit and have that physical contact that they could do so before self-isolation. The family often video call or phone for a chat and a catch-up which is always welcome.

“There’s a convenient Trinity Homecare app which relatives can access to find out information and updates without having to make a phone call or even visit. The app also allows carers to update notes and diarise the day’s events which family members can easily keep track of. It is a real innovation and something that many care home groups would struggle to deliver in practice, but it would help to release so much pressure on staff who are often besieged with calls for updates on relatives.”

Commenting on what Laura gets from working as a live-in carer, she concludes:

“Providing live-in care for people like Jane is so rewarding and it’s a real privilege for me to be able to care for someone in such a personal way. As a career choice, it’s not for everyone and does have its challenges as those who do it are effectively putting their own lives on pause while they focus all their attention on the person they’re caring for. But this is the very nature of the caring profession for everyone involved in it. And to be able to give it with the dignity and trust that living-in care affords over other forms of care makes it the most satisfying job I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve already met so many inspirational and fascinating people, and I’ve been able to create bonds with patients and their families that will last a whole lifetime.”