For some of us accustomed to working 9 to 5 or during more conventional hours, the prospect of night shifts might appear daunting. For many of our carer givers, however, evening, night or weekend shifts are the perfect solution to their employment needs.
Charlotte Atterwill has been employed with Cavell Healthcare for 3 years and typically works two nights a week. We caught up with Charlotte to find out why night work is the perfect solution for her family.
What drew you to work in care in the first place?
My sister and I were responsible for caring for a family member from quite a young age and we both found it enormously rewarding. My sister started caring professionally first and loved it so much she persuaded me to join the industry too! I’ve been a fully qualified carer for over 10 years now.
Why do you work nights?
The work perfectly suits our family life. I am a busy mum of two young children and my husband is a self-employed tradesperson, working more conventional hours, so school runs and pre- and post-school care usually fall to me. Working with Cavell Care means that I can work hours that suit when I am available, namely evenings and weekends when my husband is home and can take responsibility for the childcare. Typically, I like to do two full night shifts a week, lasting from 10pm to 7am and Cavell Healthcare is extremely supportive in ensuring I am allocated shifts that work to my availability.
How do night shifts differ from other care work?
Night shifts are different to live-in care as the staff member is required to remain awake during the night whereas a live-in carer can sleep when the client is asleep. However, some patients require through-the-night support, depending on their individual circumstances. For example, patients with motor neurone disease might need re-positioning during the night; someone with dementia might be at risk of getting up muddled and confused in the night; or if a family is caring for a loved one, having a professional in the house to take over the night duties means they can have a much-needed break. If a patient is receiving palliative care, this would also be another example of when a night carer would be required to stay up throughout the night.
Do you receive a lot of support?
Cavell Healthcare is a fantastic company to work for. They ensure that all the staff have training in all areas such as health & safety, first aid, medication, etc. So, although I was nervous when I first started, I knew I had been properly trained and this helped build my confidence.
Has Covid impacted your work?
To begin with I was certainly very nervous, but it’s a job and we all just had to get out and deliver the care; just because there was a pandemic, it didn’t mean our clients had stopped needing us. We were very grateful to have PPE and we’ve had regular testing, plus vaccines, so the situation is definitely improving from a care givers perspective. I do think it has been hard for a lot of elderly people though, as they haven’t been able to see so much of their family and it has left many feeling isolated. So, the role of the carer is more important than ever.
What do you enjoy about the work?
To be able to do a job where you are responsible for helping someone who is old, vulnerable or unwell happy and comfortable is a wonderful feeling. It doesn’t even have to be a ‘big gesture’ – as carers we can make a difference through just the smallest thing; the other night I was sitting with a lady who used to be a pilot and she couldn’t sleep, so I managed to find a programme on TV on Spitfires and I made her a cup of tea and sat and watched it with her, and the joy it brought her was amazing. It is hard work and you do have to be emotionally resilient, but it is incredibly rewarding and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.