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The forgotten frontline – our home care workers

For our latest blog, we talked to NBE advanced member Jan Healey, about her PHD research; why it's important to her and how NBE members and the wider Moving & Handling community can help.


Tell us a bit about yourself...

I had always wanted to have a career in heath care but for various reasons I didn't manage to achieve this until 18 years ago when I trained and qualified as an OT. I worked in an acute trust initially followed by a move into Social Care and found I really enjoyed working with people in their own homes. Community OT really suited me especially the moving and handling referrals and the problem-solving aspect of the role and it was in the early part of my Community OT career that I completed my key trainer's certificate. Much later in 2015 I completed an MSc in Ergonomics in Health and Community Care at Loughborough University, this I felt complimented my job as an OT and my moving and handling interests. During the past 6 years I've worked for a private OT Company as an OT manager and moving and handling lead where I've been involved in supporting a number of Local authorities implementing Single handed care projects, delivering awareness workshops, equipment training and supervising OTs conducting the assessments

I'm an active, busy person, not someone who likes to sit for long! Running is an important part of my week, I've run a couple of marathons, several half marathons and I always try to enter a local running event each year. I often come up with some of my best ideas when I'm running. I also enjoy baking, I'll often bake something at the end of a stressful or difficult day hence the running to work off the calories!

I have a son, who moved out to live with friends during the summer but he's local so we see him quite regularly. My husband is a great support in all I do, we both love walking and although we enjoy travel abroad our go to place is the Lake District.

Tell us about your PHD research...

It's my work on the single-handed care projects, working closely with care providers and home care workers where I have seen what their job entails and how important they are to those who depend on them that motivated this research.

I am conducting my research with the School of Design and Creative Arts, Loughborough University, and using Human Factors Ergonomist (HFE) theory exploring how HFE could promote quality and safety standards in home care and support planning and design. I'm investigating how care and support plans are designed (work as imagined), and how this plays out in reality (work as done). I have already conducted a scoping study with OTs, OT managers, Social workers and Social Care managers exploring their perceptions of quality and safety standards in home care which has led to my main study investigating 'A day in the life of a home care worker'. My aim is to capture everything the home care worker does in one shift including; range of skills, responsibility, complexity, physical demands, risk assessment, time management, and the challenges they encounter.

What are the issues home carers typically face?

We continue to see pressures around time; inadequate time for care calls, absence of travel time, inexperienced carers working in complex care situations. Home care workers are a resilient work force, who frequently encounter mismatches in care and support plans and their work rosters requiring them to make adaptations. The role is also low paid and although some have the opportunity to study (NVQ) level there isn't professional status recognition for the role.

Domiciliary care is widely reported as having a high work force turnover with care providers constantly recruiting and so I am also including Home carers who have left the role in the past twelve months in my study. 

What is the hardest part of your research work?

I've been surprised at how difficult it has been to recruit home carers or care providers to take part, I'm sure the pandemic has had an effect but I'm wondering if this is related to how busy the sector is and possibly concern about what the study involves. I've tried to make it very clear that everyone taking part is anonymous and confidential and that I'm on their side in terms of showcasing the role but I'm also aware that commissioning practices affect working conditions of the job (pay/hours/contract type etc) so perhaps it's understandable that some of the providers might be reluctant to participate.

How can NBE Help?

If NBE members know any care providers or home care workers working in domiciliary care and support clients who have Social Care funded packages of care I would be delighted to hear from them. My study has had to be adapted due to the pandemic (the original plan was for me to shadow home carers and observe them as they travelled between care calls) so now all participants need to do is a chat with me (by phone) and complete a couple of short tick box surveys. Each participant will be sent a £20 gift card as a thank you.

I would be really grateful for any support from NBE members, please do get in touch with me if you know anyone that may be interested in taking part or if you just want to know more.

Jan can be contacted by email:  or by phone: 07514 113343 


Jan Healey

NBE Advanced Member

J.Healey2@ 

Kristina Nathan

PR Officer, National Back Exchange

 

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