I’m a nurse, why should I care?

Posted on: 08 July 2013 by 50connect editorial

Natalie Ranger-Sizeland looks at the changing face of the care sector and what it means to be a professional carer.

care and caringPeople have cared for each other since the human race began and Adam and Eve had their first cuddle. It’s a natural instinct of human beings that they should care for each other, not just their family members, but also other people including friends and acquaintances. And this goes beyond. If you see someone stumble in the street or drop some of their change in the supermarket, the natural instinct of most people is to offer help because they care for others.

In the modern era, and certainly in the past two decades, ‘care’ has taken on several different meanings, some thankfully very positive and others unfortunately highly negative.

To ‘care’ for someone means that you truly love a person or have some sort of emotional commitment, maybe an aunt or cousin or close friend. To ‘take care’ of someone means that you look after them, for example, helping with daily activities such as shopping. And then there is ‘professional care’, where someone is trained and employed to support a person or people with their needs.

In each of these cases, there is a one-to-one relationship between at least two people and one would hope and expect that this is always positive and based on trust.

In recent times, however, we have witnessed too many instances where ‘care’ has been seen as negative.  There doesn’t appear to be a week that goes by without some horror story in the news about people obviously not being cared for when really they should; elderly patients being left in hospital beds without help, vulnerable young adults being abused in care homes, people who should be caring, actually not caring at all.

The ‘care sector’ - and by this I include public and private hospitals, residential homes and other establishments - have mushroomed since the creation of the National Health Service in 1948. Care became organised, as well as commercial, and as an industry it has grown massively in the past 60 years. Could it be that on such a wide scale, there will inevitably be pockets of that oxymoron - poor care?

Or could it be that the care sector has become more of a functional machine than one where people are truly being cared for and supported in the way they should expect?

Or might it be the situation that cases of poor care are unearthed more often and are exposed quickly nowadays through the various media channels that are available in the world of modern communications?

Whichever way I look at it, as someone who works in the care profession, it angers me that a natural and strong human instinct – to look after someone or support them in some way, especially if they are vulnerable – has become tarnished with the selfish actions of individuals and institutions. Every walk of life and profession has its unscrupulous people, from religious groups and teachers to the police and politicians, and not caring for someone when that is the person’s job is scandalous.

But here is part of the problem. I am a qualified nurse, but that doesn’t mean that I should naturally care.

I do, of course, about my family, the people I work with, and my company’s clients, but research shows that not all people employed as nurses and/or carers actually care in the truest sense of the word. They might be intelligent, they may have passed their qualifications with flying colours, but that doesn’t always equate to being able to care with compassion and understanding.

Although it shocks me to hear of instances where people are not being cared for, I am glad now that the care sector is becoming more transparent by default.

Most people are now are familiar with TripAdvisor – before they book a holiday or weekend away, they check out what other people have said, their good and bad experiences.

This is now happening in the care sector, where people and relatives have the opportunity to comment publicly on the care they or someone they know is receiving. I confess to being somewhat of a Luddite, but I do appreciate the power that modern social media has given to the public and in particular the choices that people can take about their own care or that of others.

It is well documented that people are living longer these days, which means that even more elderly people will require support in their later years. Despite many criticisms leveled at the NHS, it has been a wonderful organisation for many years, but is now under intense pressure, particularly as finances and the economy add further strains and stresses.

At the same time, there is a desire – and, indeed, action - by the government to ensure that people spend less time in hospitals and more time at home. And you know what, the majority of people are quite happy with that arrangement! Unless they absolutely have to on medical grounds, they don’t want spend days or weeks or months in a hospital ward. They prefer to live in the comfort of their own homes and familiar surroundings.

What this all means is that the care sector is going through a major period of transition and it’s an opportunity to provide care in ways that it should be delivered – providing people with the care and support they need, with absolute transparency and through properly trained and selected carers.

 

Natalie Ranger-Sizeland Natalie Ranger-Sizeland, trained nurse and registered manager of live-in care specialist, Loga Care – www.logacare.com - explains why the care sector is understandably under the spotlight and needs to change.

 

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