EXPERIENCED ELDERLY CAREGIVERS IN CANTERBURY
At Seniors Helping Seniors we’ve been operating the experienced elderly caregiver model for over 20 years worldwide. Serving clients across Canterbury, Whitstable, Sandwich, Deal and surrounding areas for five years. By enabling experienced people to provide elderly care to other seniors, we help people to remain active and fulfilled members of their community and supplement their income at the same time. Elderly caregivers come to us from all walks of life. Every one is a loving, caring, giving and compassionate person with care experience. They may be retired professional carers or those winding down other careers. They want to remain active and to use their experience effectively. We match each of our caregivers to our senior clients’ personalities, interests and activity levels. We encourage the building of strong friendships and our caregivers complete various activities throughout the day with and for our clients. Their care is easier to accept than traditional care models for many reasons.
Read our caregiver case studies and how this is received by our clients in our
client case studies below
We present case studies from clients and family members for you to download. If you would like further information about our Seniors Helping Seniors services, please get in contact with us today or call us for all locations in and around Canterbury: 01227 454 900
For details on our other areas Ashford: 01233 746 000 | Faversham: 01795 515 392 | Guildford: 01483 416653 | Sevenoaks 01732 495 665
A Carers View
Here we talk to one of our carers about how she came across Seniors Helping Seniors and her work with us. Her first question was “Am I too young to join you as an elderly caregiver?”
We would never put an age to experience. “Senior” relates to experience and no one is afraid of ageing here!
Lynne Blainey has been working with us for nearly a year. She has helped support eight families in that time. She works between five and eight hours a week.
Tell us about you:
I am married. I am a mother of two children aged 33 and 35 and grandmother to a 13 month little girl who I look after two days a week. I am also a stepmother to 3 children and step grandmother to 7 children. I started work at the age of fifteen. I am a trained copy typist and administrator. The last 20 years I have worked in accounts.
In my downtime I like to either sew (patchwork quilts), knit, read books, garden or visit friends.
How did you hear about Seniors Helping Seniors?
My husband and I bought tickets to attend a seminar on “Happy Retirement” at The Studio at the Marlowe Theatre in 2017. It was organised by Furley Page solicitors. It was not really for us, as the things they spoke about, we already had in place.
At the end of the seminar Christian Wilse of Seniors Helping Seniors gave a short talk about the company and the services that could be provided. He talked about catering for the needs of someone with dementia. I found this interesting. At that time I had a very close relative with dementia who had to move into a home for the elderly in London. I was attuned to the needs of people living with dementia. Christian also said that he would be interested in anyone that would like to join Seniors Helping Seniors as a carer.
I got in touch with Christian a bit later in the year to find out more about the company. I had a meeting with him and his wife Sally, who both made me feel very comfortable and answered all the questions that I had.
I felt the work would be very rewarding. Through no fault of their own, people find themselves needing support to do some of the simple things in life and Christian and Sally said that I would be a suitable person to help. I could not start straight away because I was in full time employment but I was finally able to join Seniors Helping Seniors in April 2018.
What type of work do you do?
I have had a few clients who have very different needs. It’s everything from helping sort out paperwork, taking them to the supermarket, trips to the coast, to helping do their cooking and helping them with housework.
I love it and it is has been completely different to any job I ever had.
Once I have left my clients, I feel pleased that I have managed to do the things that I have been asked to do for them. I feel a great sense of contentment and achievement.
The clients that I have had and now have, have been so lovely and friendly. We get to know each other well and we have quite a chat at times. I think this helps the clients, as not being family related, they can sometimes express themselves to me differently, they can re-tell favourite stories and I feel they get things off their chest.
I like to think that the clients I have like me, as I feel we get on so well. I know that if they didn’t like me for any reason, they would simply ask Christian or Sally to introduce them to someone else!
Do you have any advice for someone considering joining the company?
Anyone thinking of joining Senior Helping Seniors should have an informal chat with Christian and Sally. They will put you at ease and answer any questions you may have. It is very rewarding to do this kind of work, and to help give something back to society.
A customer viewpoint/case study
I first became aware of Seniors Helping Seniors (SHS) through a brochure provided by a dementia outreach unit based at Age UK, Canterbury. I was exploring options for care for my mother (Louise) then aged 89 who had had dementia for about 8 years. Her dementia was presenting mainly as severe short-term memory loss – she still had (and continues to have) all her former charming personality and social skills – but moments of disorientation were increasing. We needed to do something to help keep mum safe. Louise (henceforth “Louise”, “mum” or “mother”) was still living at home by herself at the time, having lost her husband a few years earlier. She was coping reasonably well and was adamant that she did not want any nursing support or to go into a home. She would have lunchtime meals delivered 3 times a week and enjoyed visits to the Age UK day centre on 3 other days.
Support was needed
My two sisters and I and other close family members were providing support but, with us children all in full-time jobs and living away from Canterbury, Louise still had long periods on her own. This lack of social contact could seem to trigger disorientation. Disorientation mainly took the form of being convinced the house where she had lived for some 60 years was not where she should be. Furthermore, she longed for her childhood home (in a different East Kent town) and could not understand how she had “arrived” where she was. It was after one or two more worrying incidents when mum was found wandering and looking lost in the street that I rang the dementia outreach team. As a result, I picked up some information on support options, including the Seniors Helping Seniors brochure.
Seniors Helping Seniors (SHS) support
Among the wealth of literature available, I was attracted to the SHS brochure for several reasons. Like many of her generation, Louise has always prided herself on her self-reliance and was, as I have said, very resistant to nursing support. Even when she was caring at home for her bed-confined husband in his last days she wanted to do it all without help. She was adamant about not wanting to go for residential care, therefore it was support at home that was needed. Most of all, I needed to pass off Louise’s carers as “other retired ladies on their own, popping in for a chat” or as “friendly neighbours”. This would not work if there were uniforms involved or a large age difference. The generally more senior staff working for SHS was thus ideal and there were no uniforms in sight in the brochure! They also provided the companionship care we were looking for and had staff very experienced with people living with dementia.
Taking the next steps
We were nervous to take the plunge. Wanting to get the right balance of independence and care for mum, so we contacted the manager of SHS Canterbury for more information and initial enquiries on several occasions in early 2014. He took great pains to understand my mother’s situation and the family concerns and did not press for any commitment, giving us time and information to decide. From information I provided he identified a few SHS elderly carers that would be suitable, and we discussed at length the best way to introduce Louise to one of them – a lady retiree from a caring profession (and shall we say between my age – I am Louise’s son – and mums!) in a trial run. It was decided that the manager and carer would visit mum while I was present. Apart from a few formal necessities, I would take care of explaining the reasons for the visit (emphasising the “another lady who is on her own and wants some company” angle). The visit duly took place and, although Louise was somewhat surprised and bemused – the success was evident from later visits when – from mum’s beaming smile – she was evidently very pleased to see her “new friend”.
From that point, we have not looked back. SHS have helped us wonderfully on very many levels as we have, in stages, increased their visits as needed. They have been a constant and utterly reliable support through the gradual worsening of Louise’s dementia and eventual move into residential care. The support has also been extremely adaptable and flexible – responding very quickly indeed to changes of circumstances and going the “extra mile” in the case of occasional crises. The companionship care provided – now from two regular carers – is of very high quality. It has enhanced Louise’s quality of life enormously – I believe that genuine friendship has been established with the carers – and this has been helped by keeping the same ladies involved. The fact that the age and general life experience (children, grandchildren etc) of the carers is not so different to mum’s helps a great deal. Although mum is beyond remembering names – mum’s smile of recognition and pleasure when her new friends arrive for a visit and the warmth of exchanged hugs is unambiguous. Louise was delighted that they accepted an invitation to her 90th birthday party!
Support for the family
Additionally, SHS have also been a source of comfort and wisdom for the family. I have had many long chats with the carers and managers in our joint endeavour to better understand mum’s condition and do our best for her. I genuinely believe we have worked as close “partners” in this and at no time have I ever felt “just another customer”. Some other occasions when I have particularly valued SHS services are outlined below.
- On a few occasions Louise would not answer morning ‘phone calls from family – leading to worry about her well-being and safety, though invariably she was just sleeping late. SHS became a major safety net – making on my request unscheduled calls to check on her using the key-safe. In one case being at the house within 5 minutes of my ‘phone call!
- In summer 2014, the frequency of Louise’s disoriented spells increased. Within a day or two, at my request and with no fuss, SHS increased the frequency of mum’s visits from 3 times a week to once each day. New carers were introduced – all very high quality.
- In autumn 2014, with increasing disorientation, we decided to exchange Louise’s visits to Age UK with day care at a residential home, with a view to eventual full-time residential care. Unlike Age UK there was no bus transport provided. The SHS care again showed great adaptability and understanding, with a new schedule generated to drive Louise to the home and pick her up.
- Later, when visits to the residential home seemed to upset mum, SHS carers advised us on this and together we took the decision to stop visits there. Instead we organised that her carers would take mum out for lunch on days when home meals were not delivered which worked very well.
- In spring 2015 mum did eventually move into residential care and SHS were again very flexible and supportive. Helping the family to talk mum through the move, providing additional visits at short notice to help family prepare at the home and advising us all the time. Mum’s two SHS carers continue to visit her in the care home and this has helped a great deal with the transition process.
- Numerous kindnesses from the carers:
- Endless cups of tea and coffee with mum and a friendly face, open ears and encouragement when she was feeling low.
- Reminding mum to use olive oil ahead of ear syringing (something mum would forget to do and we could not do with required regularity).
- Long hours on several occasions being with and reassuring mum during hospital stays and appointments.
- Checking the house was warm enough in winter.
- Help with sorting out a broken TV.
- Taking mum’s washing home when her machine broke down.
- Taking photos (and giving mum copies to jog her memory) of excursions enjoyed as well as of old friends and relatives when they happened to visit at the same time as SHS.
- Keeping an eye and reporting back on mum’s mood and well-being.
- Letting the family know of household issues – e.g. need to replace a broken kettle.
- Taking mum out on drives (which she loved) to her favourite places around East Kent.
- Helping us to set up a Skype link with mum (which took some time to get right).
RG – Devon
Download this Seniors Helping Seniors elderly care case study as a PDF: SHS Customer viewpoint2