A home care visitor from Bintree says she has learnt that “we are all more capable of caring than we realise” after clocking up 15 years of service with award-winning Extra Hands.
Kim Barker, 33, joined the company straight from college and admitted that even in her job interview, she expressed doubts about her own suitability, but 15 years on, “I absolutely love what I do and don’t see myself doing anything else.
“If you’d asked me at 18 if I thought I’d still be here at nearly 34 I’d probably have laughed, but the job has become who I am,” she said.
“I’d done work experience in a care home but I really wasn’t sure that this was what I wanted to do, and I actually said that in my interview, but (Extra Hands director of care services) Jo (Tier) said ‘give it three months and see how it goes’ and now here we are, 15 years later.”
Kim works out of the Horsham St Faith branch of the family-run company, which for almost 30 years has been supplying a wide variety of home care visiting services for all budgets and family circumstances, including a daily wellbeing check-up service, across the region.
She said that one of the things that kept her motivated was the independence and increased peace of mind that home care provides for service users.
“Keeping people in their own home is massively important to me, I believe people are so much better off in their own environment, and will recuperate better at home if they’ve been unwell,” she said. “People thrive better at home, so to be playing a part in that is definitely satisfying.
“The job teaches you what you are capable of, and how much you can offer somebody else. When my own grandfather passed away three years ago, my knowledge from work helped me understand his illness and also offer support to my own parents, knowing the right things to say and do. Doing this job has taught me so much, not least that we’re all a lot more capable of caring than we realise.”
Despite the company’s impressive growth over the last few years, it has not lost touch with its core family values, a devotion to detail that has seen its Heacham office being rated as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, and Kim said that staff were treated with as much sensitivity and empathy as care users.
“Whether you’re a big or small company, if your core values remain the same you’ll succeed, and I’ve been here for 15 years, which says a lot,” she said.
“I had nearly a year out when I gave birth to twin boys, and they were great at accommodating me back to work, not just in terms of work, but in my personal life too.”
From her tentative start to her career, 15 years down the line, home care visiting has become something that clearly means a huge amount to Kim.
“The simplest of things can bring the biggest reward – even if it’s just something like making someone laugh or smile when they’re having a tough time, you know you’ve done something good for them,” she said.
“Sometimes the people we visit can be so vulnerable and scared, so knowing that we help keep them at home, where they want to be, for as long as possible, gives me great job satisfaction.”
If she saw her younger self now, Kim says she would tell her to throw aside her doubts. “I would say go in with your eyes open and take every opportunity, because it’s so rewarding,” she said.
“You can’t come into caring half-heartedly. I don’t do this for the money, you have to want to be a carer and make a difference. It’s like a vocation.”
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