‘Proud Carer’

Karolina Gerlich is a proud carer and a NACAS Director. She has worked as a carer for the past 7 years, and brings experience of business management and providing training. She is studying for a degree is Psychology with the Open University and for a BTEC HND in Health and Social Care. Follow @NacasUK

The National Association of Care & Support Workers (NACAS) was founded in 2016. The association is directed by care workers and aims to improve health and social care through our members. We are working hard to improve training standards and ensure that care profession gets the respect and recognition it deserves.

There are a variety of titles given to those who provide care professionally; our members are home-carers, care-home carers, personal assistants, support workers, healthcare assistants, as well as managerial staff. Regardless of the job title, we all provide care to people, and often spend a great deal of time with them.

In this time, we really get to know the person – their needs and their preferences – often participating in very private and intimate aspects of their life.

We support those we care for physically, mentally and socially, and frequently form close relationships. To be able to deliver care, we work hard to establish trust, and continuously reinforce mutual respect and understanding.

In terms of geriatric care, we spend extended periods of time with patients. The time spent with patients and the close relationships that result mean that we have a thorough understanding of their needs; we are a familiar face, helping them feel safe.

We are a valuable resource that – we believe – should be used widely in patient care. Always happy to help, we can explain our client’s issues and needs, and recommend best practices for interacting with them. We can provide medical history, as well as details of medication intake, exercise and diet, moods and even embarrassing symptoms that patients hesitate to share.

Professional carers can help with feeding, personal care, and encourage patients to eat and take on fluids, reducing the burden on the health service.

In my personal experience (as a professional carer for 7 years), clients with dementia struggle a lot with hospital admission. For example, a couple of years ago, one of my female clients had knee surgery. She had moderate dementia and was scared of hospitals. My presence with her everyday kept her calm and made her feel safer; the familiarity of my face and voice reassured her. As she had no family, I was the only reliable source of recent medical history and medication habits. Communicating this to the doctors helped to ensure she had the best treatment possible. I was able to get her to eat properly, and after her physiotherapy assessment my encouragement to do the required exercises helped her quickly recover from the surgery.

NACAS thinks that by working together, geriatricians and carers can improve the care for older people, make people feel less isolated in medical settings and reduce the number of days patients are away from home. We would like to invite the geriatric medicine community to help us provide better care, and capitalise on our skills and experience.

We are looking for people to work with us on improving training, creating additional courses that we can provide to our members. We would like to hear your thoughts and opinions on working with professional carers, and to open a dialogue where together we can improve patient care.

Contact Karolina on Karolina@nacas.org.uk if you would like to get involved, especially in producing training materials.

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