to ask: if you work with the elderly in a non caring role, what do you do?

(23 Posts)
SeasonalVag Fri 29-Apr-16 06:46:50

Planning on going back to work and after a long career break, want to do something useful rather then merely lining my own pockets. I'm increasingly interested in working with the elderly but no idea how to approach this. I have no experience in caring other than my own kids, and wouldnt really want to be a carer as such. But I see so much knowledge and experience that gets ignored because as a society we only care about the young. And at the same time, so much vulnerability. Where do I start?

Waitingfordolly Fri 29-Apr-16 06:50:34

Have a look at local voluntary organisations. There's a Big Lottery programme called Ageing Better that's happening in 15 places across the country so you might live near one of those, the one near us is doing a whole range of things, arts, befriending, education, gardening with young and old people together, fitness etc. Age UK is the obvious place to start, but there may be other voluntary organisations too, if you have a local Voluntary Action or Volunteer Centre they should know. Good luck!

SimpleSimonThePieMan Fri 29-Apr-16 07:05:00

Funeral director? Sorry, couldn't resist!

margaritasbythesea Fri 29-Apr-16 07:06:49

I work for a charity whose beneficiaries are mainly older.

PerspicaciaTick Fri 29-Apr-16 07:11:32

As a way of gradually moving into a new career, I'd suggest seeing if your local library needs volunteers. Our library has volunteers supporting new computer users, people who take books to the housebound, running reading groups etc. And the people using these services are mostly elderly. It might be a way to see what aspects you enjoy and make some contacts.

tellmemore1982 Fri 29-Apr-16 07:13:01

I would like to follow this thread. OP I have had similar thoughts as I am currently on a careers break, during which time I have had extensive contact with services who provide elderly care as my parents have been very unwell. I would welcome any suggestions from people about making a new career in this field and not voluntary roles (although dolly your info is useful).

My thoughts are loosely structured around the following questions:

1) Private or State Provision?

Many elderly people are unable to afford private services and therefore the state plays a huge role in providing care of different kinds. It also means it's a field where there aren't huge amounts of money to be made on an individual level, partly as much of the provision is state funded and further, to be seen to be paying comparably high staff costs would be questioned from a moral standpoint by clients and their families. That's said, many people do want "the best" at the end of their life and are willing to pay for it. I was one of these people when it came to my parents.

Personally my experience of the two areas are much as they are in other sectors - private provision is a business and is run as such, but most people working in it are there because they want to be and are rewarded adequately. Services are more dynamic, tailored, fast and personal with what I feel are clearer objectives and roles. The state provision is in my experience, massively restricted by administration and staff who are less able to tailor really good personal solutions due to limited time and lack of communication between silo departments, (I'm trying to be diplomatic here and neither blame it's dusfunctionality on the government, because I think the problems in social care areas have been around FAR longer than the conservative government, nor blame the very hard working staff). I would be glad to back this up with very specific examples if anyone wants to challenge that.

So, some of the areas you could consider which mostly have both state (for basic) and private (for supplementary) provision are:

- Homecare administration, managing carers, client relationships, delivery, efficiency etc
- Nursing home administration and management
- Care coordination, tailoring solutions across functions for single clients, a hugely important role which I was rarely able to find anyone who could help with. In the state sector this is social services, who sadly (sorry, again my experience) I found sorely lacking
- Therapies such as Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech and Language, Dieticians... All play a great role in the complex dynamics of health problems for the elderly
- Mobility aids and equipment, there's a huge retail market for a massive variety of elderly care products if retail / sales is your thing, from wheelchairs to stair lifts to hoists to personal care etc
- Social and emotional support services, running groups and day care centres, there are very often paid roles in this field with charities such as Alzheimer's Society

2) What level do you want to work at?

In the private sector there are everything from small companies with one or two staff, to huge national companies running care homes as businesses and everything in between. Think about which would give you the greatest introduction to a specific area of choice and allow you to work at the managerial / responsibility level you felt most comfortable.

I have to run for now, am keen to hear other input too.

Mooey89 Fri 29-Apr-16 07:17:21

I'm a social worker with older people.
My job is to assess care needs and arrange care packages. Manage safeguarding concerns. Work with other professionals, occupational therapists, doctors, older persons mental health etc. Assess mental capacity for decision making. Lead decision making regarding moving into care homes and ensure that move is proportionate and legal.... Amongst others!

I absolutely love my job! You can do it unqualified too, which is the same job without the legal aspects.

Mousefinkle Fri 29-Apr-16 07:17:45

My Nan is a 'sitter'. Like a babysitter for the elderly. She basically sits with them for a few hours whilst their main carer has some respite. She can feed them and help them with drinks but for the most part she just sits and talks to them or watches tv with them.

SeasonalVag Fri 29-Apr-16 07:20:24

This is great, thanks. Am dashing about so can't post properly. I can't afford NOT to work, it needs to be a paid role. Interesting about social work.....I'll follow that up

tellmemore1982 Fri 29-Apr-16 07:23:50

Mooey I'm very interested in your experience. How did you get into your role, do you find you have the seniority to tailor complex decisions (if so what level are you at and how long have you been doing it?), and does your equivalent exist in private sector?

Junosmum Fri 29-Apr-16 08:49:56

I'm a social worker. I work in 'generic adults' (e.g not learning disabilities or mental health) and though it covers all adults aged 18+ in reality 90%+ of my caseload is elderly. I love it and really feel like I make a difference to both individuals and their families. It can be hard but it's very rewarding.

I work with a number of services who help older adults (elderly isn't the said thing these days). Including carers, day centres, charities, Wiltshire farm foods/ meals on wheels, we also have a number of non-qualified social work assistants who carry their own caseload.

PerspicaciaTick Fri 29-Apr-16 10:16:28

Juno - your job sounds fantastic. But "generic adults" is an awful desciptor, who ever came up with really should have thought twice.

BrianCoxReborn Fri 29-Apr-16 10:30:31

I volunteer at a residential home for the elderly.

50/50 nursing care / no-health concerns.

I hold a knitting group. In reality I go in with my yarn and needles and sit in the day room and chat. Only 1/15 ladies joins me with knitting but the rest natter or I help them out with various things (usual picking up dropped walking sticks!)

In the day room there are 2 ladies with quite advanced dementia and I adore them. They are, without meaning to be disrespectful, just like my 3 year old. The speech, they're questions, needing affection. It breaks my heart and makes it swell with love in equal measures.

I adore going there, they have so much to say and have led such interesting lives (a lawyer, a gp, several housewives to businessmen, some with no children others with 5!)

How does this help you? I work with the Activity Coordinator. She is full time and paid. Her job does what it says on the tin. She loves it. From painting pictures to gardening to daytrips to the garden centre or a trip to the pub!

Very fulfilling work. I feel honoured to know these people.

Mooey89 Fri 29-Apr-16 11:46:27

Yes, my job is technically 18+ with a social care need. I do have some younger people on my caseload but most are older people.

In order to be a qualified social worker it is a specific social work degree. I've been qualified now for 6 years.

I think in terms of feeling 'qualified' for decision making - you are working with many different professionals, all with an input, and obviously the input of the family - mostly we go with the family wishes unless there are concerns that they are not acting in the persons best interests...

There is a private agency who help people to find care packages if they are privately funding, but they are few and far between.
We often talk about how there is a huge gap in the market for a new business!

tellmemore1982 Fri 29-Apr-16 12:03:23

Mooey this was exactly my experience. My parents are self funded so we had very little input from SS. Basically, a lot of people need access to a social care coordinator who does what you do, but for self funded clients using private sector services (with some overlap with state where required eg therapist referrals), is that what you mean?

Mooey89 Fri 29-Apr-16 14:52:57

The LA should be helping if you need it - yes we absolutely have to signpost self funders and give them the info to sort it themselves - this is so that we have the resources available for those who can't find themselves, but we also have a duty of care to people who are self funding, and if there are things you are finding difficult, you absolutely can ask for help.

we have waiting lists though, so there is a big gap for a private agency who would assess care needs, help find agencies/placements and create care plans just like I would!

When I'm ready to give up the complex work I'm going to start my own agency I think!

JaceLancs Fri 29-Apr-16 16:04:53

Advocacy for older people
Activities co ordinator in a day centre or nursing home
Advice giving charities who specialise in working with older people

MaliksMalik Fri 29-Apr-16 16:08:38

I read your title and thought care home manager or Tory MP, but you don't mean 'uncaring'!

Some good suggestions above, also worth considering if you could do your current/previous job somewhere that cares for/charity for older people, eg finance/admin etc?

tellmemore1982 Fri 29-Apr-16 22:27:50

Maliks, the fact that you see someone's question about how their talents can be used to the benefit of others as an excuse to have a pop at government shows that you really have very little experience in this field since this government is the first to actually introduce a cap on care costs, increase the self funding threshold, and force LAs to allocate social care as a specific portion of funding costs. If that's your objective, please find an alternative thread.

As per my pp, state funded social care issues have been around a lot longer than this or the last government. Like the OP, I would really welcome thoughts on how professional and skilled women (and men) can use their skills in an ever increasingly important role in society.

tellmemore1982 Fri 29-Apr-16 22:42:44

Mooey - I wholeheartedly agree with you. My parents were acute so there was no waiting list for us, but despite being in the most unimaginably difficult position, we still came up against so many closed doors.

A genuine question, why do you think that agency would be less complex? I ask that as you seem so well placed to highlight gaps where the OP and I could identify a new role.

Mooey89 Sat 30-Apr-16 08:36:05

Because the majority of my caseload is taken up with mental capacity assessments, best interests decisions, safeguarding, court work, alongside the care co-ordinating side of things.

I absolutely love the complex side of things but I think if you were in an independent agency you wouldn't legally be able to do these tasks. You could advise, of course, but not carry them out.

ptumbi Sat 30-Apr-16 08:44:57

I used to work in a lovely old people's home as an 'Activities co-ordinator' - I would go in every day for a few hours, do flower-arranging, trips to the tea-dance, keep-fit, games, gardeing, cooking, paint nails etc, and once a month or so organise a 'big' thing like going to London or Brighton, doing a Fete, Easter bonnets...
Loved it.

catloony Sat 30-Apr-16 08:54:01

I work as an advisor for an older persons charity. I do a lot of work with helping to apply for benefits, and I help self funders find community care packages, residential placements. The local hospital also funds us to help with bed blockers to sort out the issue that is keeping them in hospital when they are medically fit and no longer need to be in hospital.

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