Introducing Ashridge Home Care carer and Wendover-based Amanda Hillier
As well as caring for her clients, Amanda has the additional role of supporting our carers whilst out in the community, providing them with important guidance, support and supervision.
Tell us a bit about your background
I moved to Wendover in 1977, aged 10 and lived here until I was 18. Having studied at Aylesbury College, I relocated to London to pursue a career in the hotel industry and latterly Estate Agency. Returning to Wendover in 2002, I was part of the team that set up the Tim Russ Estate Agency on Back Street. Four years ago, I decided to take a break and became a domestic cleaner, I found myself gravitating towards my elderly clients, finding the work more fulfilling as I wasn’t only cleaning but bringing another dimension to their weekly routine.
How did you get into caring?
I’ve always loved elderly people. My Nan was my world. In my teenage years, I worked at Abbeyfield House, Dobbins Lane and regularly visited a lady in her 90’s who lived on Chiltern Road. She was hard of hearing, had no family locally and very few visitors, we would drink tea and play board games.
A year ago, I contacted Trudi Scrivener founder of Ashridge Home Care. Trudi and the team were so lovely, and the service the company offers is exactly what I was hoping for. I’d previously secured a position with an agency offering 15-minute and half-hour visits. This I felt uncomfortable with, I knew I’d feel dreadful, having to leave a vulnerable person after such a short time.
I chose Ashridge Home Care as its client focussed. They listen to the needs of the individual and their family, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience, they offer a unique approach, with regular review visits to ensure the Care Plan in place is adapted as necessary. Trudi and the team have the staff members’ welfare as a priority, the training is ongoing and there are regular team meetings and activities to encourage a team spirit and feeling of support.
Tell us about a typical client visit
The purpose of my visit is to encourage independent living, no two days are the same, the activities will be influenced by the mood of the person, their energy levels and the appointments diary. It’s very much about gauging what people want, listening to each individual and finding out what they would like assistance with. Never assume anything!
My visits can include helping clients to get up, dressed and washed, ensuring prescription tablets are taken at the correct time. Visits to the shops, medical appointments, a walk in the park, preparing meals, the list goes on.
At the beginning of each visit, the Carer will sign onto the company App, this outlines the individual care plan and enables us to view details of previous visits. Relatives are also able to access these records, which is an extremely useful tool in keeping them informed of their relative’s health and wellbeing.
Currently, I visit clients in Chesham, Great Missenden and Weston Turville, 70% of our clients live with Dementia. I visit a 91-year-old lady who leads a very quiet life, unsurprisingly she’s frail and has little social interaction as she struggles to keep up with the conversation. On a monthly basis I take her to see her sister in a local care home, she becomes a different person, she sits up, holds eye contact with her sister, they embrace, they’ve been known to break into song, a lullaby or hymn from their childhood, have very muddled chats and will often have a quiet giggle together, it’s such a privilege to be part of this time. This very same lady thrashes me at cards! She tells me off if I forget the rules of the game or am being too slow when shuffling! She talks of her father. It was he who taught her to play and apparently was very quick to cheat!
What do you enjoy about your job?
The role guarantees variety, it’s hugely rewarding to enable people to maintain independent living. The clients share memories, I hear first-hand tales from almost a century ago in some cases, it truly is an education. There is nothing more satisfying than giving a person time and patience to express themselves at their own pace.
Why is this type of care so important?
To remain in your own home maintaining independence, with the reassurance of a Carer is invaluable to most. Family and friends can visit in an all too familiar, relaxed environment and separation from an adored pet aren’t necessary.
Two or three hourly visits are so beneficial, for the vulnerable person to have one to one time. Often, we’ll be the only visit of the day. To sit and enjoy a cooked meal with someone and have a chat leaves them with a warm feeling, even if they don’t remember you’ve been there. I manage my time, so never rush off without ensuring the person has all they need and are not feeling anxious.
Being a good neighbour
Neighbours provide a valuable lifeline to a vulnerable person and their carer, perhaps a husband or wife. The strain of caring for your nearest and dearest can take its toll. Never be fooled by the smiley face of a proud person. With the Winter evenings, we are less inclined to make the effort. To pop in for half an hour, for a quick chat and a cup of tea it makes all the difference. The current AGE UK campaign is a great way of highlighting this issue, so please do make the effort.
Any words of wisdom?
People want kindness and support, not pity. They’re mature individuals with their own special stories, whose thoughts and feelings who should be respected.
It’s proven that a person with dementia may not remember what they did that day or even five minutes ago, but they do retain the emotion. They’ll go to bed knowing that today was a good day, or for some reason, they’ve felt sad, but won’t remember why. We’re all guilty of thinking ‘I won’t bother visiting today, they won’t remember anyway’, but what they will remember is that warm feeling they felt, knowing someone cares.
Did you know 21,000 live-in carers are needed to aid hospital discharges ?
Help us reduce the risk of infection by getting elderly and vulnerable people back into their own homes where they can be supported by a live-in carer in isolation in a safe environment.
Ashridge Home Care, based in Amersham, is a multi-award-winning care provider rated ‘Outstanding in Caring’ by the Care Quality Commission in June 2019, with over 30 years’ experience of providing skilled, conscientious and friendly carers to deliver one-to-one care to clients living in Buckinghamshire , Oxfordshire , Hampshire , Hertfordshire , Berkshire, London and surrounding areas. – whether you need a lot of support or just a little looking after, we can help you.