Hani has been caring for her client for two years now and is experienced in the challenges that living with MS can bring to daily life.
Have you got a background in care?
Yes I have, I’ve worked in care since I was 20. Firstly, with autism, mainly with men up in the Wirral at a day centre. It was a lovely old farmhouse enabling men with autism to live a practical and enjoyable life.
Tell us about your background in care
After working at the day centre I wanted to extend my knowledge and I did my nursing diploma. Then I progressed to a degree learning disabilities at Chester University. It was hard work but it covered autism, dementia and several other conditions so I had a good grounding. After University I took a job at a low secure unit – to enable people with learning disabilities back out of prison and into the community. I loved my work here and really found my calling for caring for others. When I moved to Bristol I started working in care homes.
How did you come across Ashridge Home Care?
My friend was working at Ashridge and she was very positive about the company. I joined as a live-in carer and have not looked back since. I liked the idea that I could use my skills to focus on one person and give them the best life possible. I really enjoy working in care and Ashridge recognised that my education and knowledge could be valuable for specific clients that are very independent but require support for specific medical conditions. I was matched with my client who lives with MS because of my specific training and I’ve been able to apply my knowledge to offer MS care at home and we get on really well.
Why might someone with MS need live-in care?
With MS everyone will be affected differently. There are three main types of diagnosis and my client has a more aggressive form which means she can’t feel the bottom part of her body. Many people with MS can have mood swings as having lived a full life the illness can be so debilitating and cause restrictions which is frustrating. So having a live-in carer that can support you on a daily basis and get to know your moods and capabilities is invaluable. There is so much more to it than just practical care. It is so important to have a positive mental outlook to be able to remain independent and I can judge this.
As well as ensuring her daily wellbeing is met, for example, I help her get washed and keep clean and get into her wheelchair safely. Then she can be independent around the house, manage her own medical appointments and create shopping lists that I can fulfil. She makes a lot of phone calls to handle her schedule and doesn’t need PA help as such, but then I can go and pick up her medications and shopping as required. Going out can be very tiring so having someone to help with the physical aspects of daily life is a huge support.
How does a live-in carer make a difference to someone with MS?
Every day is different with MS and it has a huge psychological impact on someone. Some days can be frustrating, but we have built a fantastic relationship so on those days I know when I am needed to step in. I can help her because I’m here. It can also be very tiring so we have to choose carefully when we go out and make the most of our social trips. She is a very intelligent lady who has lived a full life with lots of travelling, so we do stimulating things and having me live-in means if we do get out, she can rest upon our return whilst I prepare the evening meal. We will watch travel documentaries and discuss books. She had a highly successful and demanding career so she is full of knowledge and we have stimulating conversations. My job here is to fit in as much as possible and to make her life the best It can be.
What does a typical day as a live-in carer look like?
We usually get up early as we like to get on with things – she makes lists of things for me to do such as reorganising her cupboards, and we shop together online so I can prepare the food. I do most of the cooking as due to her MS she doesn’t have complete control of her hand movements, but luckily she likes my cooking. Fortunately, my client is very independent and my job is to give her the space to do her thing. Although it is a natural instinct to help someone when they are struggling, it is important to have patience and hang back so they can achieve as much as they wish alone. I always make sure she is the centre of everything.