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Valuing the role of the domiciliary care worker

I am sure that people in the social care industry will have noticed recent reports in the press and media relating to domiciliary care workers, who provide a 24-hour service to people with dementia. The main thrust of the reports was whether or not domiciliary care workers should be paid for the whole time they are on duty. While I recognise the importance of what domiciliary care works should be paid I was really taken by the compassion and professionalism expressed by the workers in relation to the people that receive their care.

Domiciliary home care worker visiting elderly lady

This blog article is about the role of the domiciliary care worker and the contribution they make to the social care industry.

What does a domiciliary care worker do? One only has to look at an extract from the following job description for domiciliary care workers to realise the commitment they make, often rewarded with very low pay ‘You will be visiting people in their own homes to assist with household tasks, some personal care and occasionally accompanying the client on visits such as to the doctor or hospital. Some domiciliary care workers are required to work nights offering assistance to clients who require around the clock care’.

As a domiciliary care worker you could be providing a full range of personal care from assisting with washing and dressing in the morning to aiding with toileting during the day. On a different day you might be assisting someone who is fully mobile but has dementia and requires assistance with cooking and cleaning. There is a great deal of variety in domiciliary care work, that requires the ability to meet changing situations that can challenge the care worker.

Why do domiciliary care workers take up the task? It seems to me that to be a domiciliary care worker you need to have a genuine interest in helping people to maintain their quality of life and independence regardless of the potential barriers they face. You must be a patient person, who is kind and sympathetic to the difficulties faced by people who require social care.

The main stimulus for working in social care in the community appears to be job satisfaction. People seek employment in domiciliary care because they want to make a real, positive difference to other people’s lives. High turnover is caused by issues of pay, by conditions of employment, by the nature of the work, and by competition from other employers (Skills for Care, 2012). Other issues faced by domiciliary care staff include a changing client community, and the geographical and professional isolation associated with working in private homes (Skills for Care, 2010).

Summary There is little doubt that we need to place a greater value on the contribution made by domiciliary care workers not only to their clients but to the social care industry as a whole. We cannot solely rely on their compassion and professionalism, but recognise their importance and reward them accordingly.

Albert Cook Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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