SIR – I wrote this article a few years ago, but it has much greater relevance for today and the very stressful time we are experiencing.

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I asked then: “Do you know a carer? Carers are the men and women providing professional care services to the elderly, the disabled, the frail or sick.”

At that time it was a reality that few people truly considered the worth of carers, nor of all the other keyworkers who are now holding this country together. Largely we exist with an impression and an opinion, shaped by our experience or by the media, and sadly care homes hit the headlines for all of the wrong reasons.

It is ironic that it is only now that all of the vacancies within care homes may actually be filled as people strive to find a job with the collapse of so many businesses. Usually ‘care’ is never a job that attracts employees because of the salary. Carers come to the job because of qualities that are only now being truly valued.

They stay in the job because they are genuinely caring, compassionate people who want to help others, and they carry on staying as it becomes a most rewarding career. Like all of the NHS workers, and other care services, we go home at the end of a long day having truly made a difference to the lives of many.

Through my time being a carer I have learned that carers are an impressive lot! The majority are dedicated and hard working team players.

I’ve met carers from every background: mums, dads, younger, older, foreigners from many different cultures, those in university, those otherwise overqualified, and those who’ve only just finished their required training. It’s a fact that we wouldn’t have a care industry if it weren’t for immigrants filling many roles.

But the most common thread is that nearly every carer has a story to tell – having had their fair share of hardship or even tragedy. It’s these things, after all, that often build the overly compassionate and caring natures that drive us and enable us to do our jobs.

So many times I’ve been deeply moved doing my work. I’ve seen such loving, and genuinely caring acts between carer and resident. I’ve seen the most caring hugs, the most tender moments of conversation, the most gentle of touches offering reassurance from these people who are now very much the resident’s new family.

I am exceptionally proud to work alongside my colleagues. They are a blessing to families who cannot be there for their own.

They are, in the great majority, all special people doing work that is very specialised. Their buttons can be pushed every day, their patience can be tried beyond endurance, and emotionally they can suffer when those they care for reach the end of their lives. Every day their physical safety can also be threatened, but now too their very lives are being endangered.

Carers are owed a great debt by society. As with many key workers they should receive a better wage in recognition, but what they all thoroughly deserve is our utmost respect. Theirs is a tough job, made easier by working within a team of good people. Before this pandemic each one of them would have said that theirs is the most rewarding job they could do! And thankfully now their pride in their work has grown and grown. Bless all of you who Clap for us all on a Thursday – you truly make our days, or nights, better and our hearts soar!

Roxanne Bannatyne,
Southbourne

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