The Life of a Live-In Carer

Whilst we carry out around 2500 care calls a week, some of the care we deliver is more permanent and we currently have 5 live-in carers who are permanently based with clients for whom they deliver round-the-clock care. We caught up with Laura, who is responsible for all of our live-in carers, to find out more about the life of live-in care…

How does being a live-in carer differ from regular care work?

With care calls, you will go into a client’s house and deliver care for a set period of time or to an agreed care plan. However, our live-in carers, as the name suggests, move in with our client to deliver care 24/7. They usually do a shift pattern such as 4 weeks on and then 2 weeks off, but there is flexibility, for example 2 weeks on/2 weeks off. So live-in care is often shared between two carers. The important thing is that the client has someone with them at all times.

What does it take to be a live-in carer?

I think it takes a really special kind of individual to do live-in care. In fact, many of our live-in carers come from a care home background and say that they don’t get enough time to create a relationship with those they care for. So live-in care allowed them to build a bond.

It is a challenging thing to do to go into someone’s home and live with them, without taking over. We have to be mindful of the fact that very often when someone gets to the stage where they need live-in care, they might have lived on their own for a very long time, so they are used to their own habits and routines. It is very important a live-in carer doesn’t come in and upset that.

What does a live-in carer do?

Most importantly, they become part of the family. We see it as a partnership. It is critical they build a rapport and relationship with the client so they can both live together in harmony; after all, they eat meals together and spend time on hobbies and fun activities. On a practical basis they will help with everyday needs and chores, such as shopping, medication, personal care, nutrition and hydration, but we always stress that it’s important they encourage the client to continue doing things for themselves as well, so they don’t lose their independence.

What is the biggest challenge live-in carers face?
I definitely think it is hard for them to go into an environment, where, understandably, the client may be very anxious or nervous about having them move in – the client may have accepted that they need help, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t concerned about having someone move in with them. Especially as I said, many of them have lived alone for a long time.

So, it is absolutely crucial that we spend time matching the right carer to clients who require live-in care. I always try and find out if they have shared hobbies and interests and we take time when we place a new carer, in ensuring that they meet the client and get to know them first. It is also important to involve the wider family to ensure that everyone feels comfortable with the arrangement.

What is the advantage of live-in care?
I can’t stress enough what a positive impact keeping someone in their own home can have. There is absolutely no question that almost everyone will thrive when they are in their own home. I have an example at the moment of a client who was given around 6 weeks to live when she was in hospital, but she was discharged and sent home with a live-in carer and 6 months later she is fighting fit – no medication and eating 3 good meals a day. If that isn’t a testament to the benefit of live-in care, I don’t know what is!