Families being unable to visit elderly and vulnerable relatives during the pandemic meant the role of care workers acting as surrogate families became more important than ever.
And one Norfolk care worker says it is the family atmosphere within her own team that has helped them all get through such tough times.
This month Rosie Newstead celebrates 10 years working for the Heacham branch of the multi award-winning Extra Hands, rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, and she said team spirit had been the key to the family-run company’s success in helping so many service users and their families over the last 12 months.
“The last year has been so tough, we’re extremely lucky that in our area we have an incredibly supportive close team,” said the 33-year-old mum of three. “We really are like a family – there’s someone in the group who’s the mum, another who’s the dad – with the way we rally round and support one another.”
Rosie worked for another care company before making the switch to Extra Hands, which also provides a wellbeing check service offering check-up visits to care users when friends and family are unable to, a decade ago and said it was a move she had never regretted.
“I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone,” she explained. “With the company I was at before, you were always rushing from one appointment to the next, but there’s none of that with Extra Hands, they’re so accommodating and work around your situation.
“Over the last 10 years I’ve had three children, but every time I’ve come back, they’ve always been so adaptable and built things around my circumstances. As a member of staff, they work with you and they’re always there on the end of the phone whenever you need help with anything.”
Of Rosie’s 10 years with the company, founded in 1993, none has been quite like the last one – but she said a lot of the job had carried on being largely the same.
“With families not being so free to visit, though, you do feel you have to do a bit more now,” she said. “It’s no longer a case of going on with a list of things you know that you have to do, there are definitely more things to take care of. It’s challenging in the best way, and it’s certainly made me a better multi-tasker!”
With three different regional runs, each with eight services users to visit, no two days are ever the same in Rosie’s work, and she said this variety and the thanks of service users were all the job satisfaction anyone could ask for.
“The warmth you receive for the contact and interaction is such a reward,” she said. “Sometimes you’re their only visitor, so when they say thank you, you know you’ve made a difference.”
And Extra Hands has certainly made the difference for Rosie, of Fakenham, over the last 10 years. “I came out of school with no GCSEs, but they’ve taught me everything I need to know to do the job,” she said. “I absolutely love it. If you’re tempted to join, I would definitely recommend it.”
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