Simon, who works for West Norfolk home care company Extra Hands, said while the coronavirus pandemic had brought new challenges for carers and care service users, it was little things that have helped the people he cares for.
“It’s important because they don’t feel so isolated, they rely on us more than ever to keep them connected with the outside world,” he said. “Little things like posting letters have become impossible for them, so I’ve taken it upon myself to do things like that, and there was one lady who I used to take shopping regularly. We can’t do that now, so I’ve become her personal shopper!
After years working in a variety of roles, including retail, hospitality, insurance and sales, Simon, who lives in Heacham, believes the unique circumstances of the pandemic had made him realise the full importance of the work he does at the award-winning Extra Hands, and what it means to him.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had, I love it and I always look forward to going to work,” he said. “I joined Extra Hands around two years ago, having had no previous professional caring background, but I’d always been the sort of person friends and family would turn to in a difficult situation, so I felt I would be able to do the job, and there was nothing about it that scared me.
“It’s come with some personal sacrifice but it’s something I’ve been willing to do, to provide the care I give. It’s taught me patience and humility and highlighted how important the work that we do is. We really do have the users’ lives in our hands.”
It is not just Simon who has developed a more full understanding of the work he does – so has the wider public, through the weekly Clap for Carers, something he said that he really appreciated.
“On the first night it happened, I had a new carer shadowing me on duty, and the people in the street we were delayed coming out to clap until we arrived, because they knew what we were doing,” he said. “That made me feel great.”
Award-winning Extra Hands, with offices in Heacham and Horsham St Faith, provides care to people all over Norfolk, and Simon said the locally-based angle is key to its success.The Heacham office received an ‘Outstanding’ rating by the Care Quality Commission and currently has capacity to help more people in the coastal area.
“Not only does it teach you time management, as you know how long it will take you do your rounds, but also you get to know the users’ families and neighbours too, so it builds up a real sense of community,” he explained. “If you’re working in an area you don’t know, there’s a sense of detachment, but with Extra Hands being so local, it gives the service an extra layer. It helps us to provide a professional service in a personal way.”
Extra Hands was the first home care provider in the county to offer a wellbeing check service for carers who need to be reassured when they cannot make their usual calls and now this service is in its fifth year and proving very popular.
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