Celebrating carers

Nurses, healthcare assistants, and the ancillary workers who support them play a crucial role in society. In addition to the wonderful individuals who choose to make caring their profession, around 6.5 people across Britain are unpaid carers according to Carers UK – that is equivalent to one in eight adults. Here at QS, we know that celebrating carers of all types is vital. However, we are also aware that too many great stories about inspirational individuals are not shared widely enough, or simply remain untold. Below are just a few examples which have warmed our hearts in recent weeks – we hope you find them as inspiring as we do.

Celebrating carers on the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List

Lead healthcare assistant, Emrys Owen, recently received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to veterans during COVID-19 a result of his work at the Royal Star & Garter’s Surbiton care home. The charity provides award-winning care for ex-military personnel and their partners who live with disability or dementia. Emrys joined the organisation almost 40-years ago in 1982.

On his accolade, Director of Care at the home, Pauline Shaw, said: “Emrys is an outstanding carer. He is dedicated, compassionate, and leads by example. We have been lucky to have him for so long, and we’re all immensely proud of him. I’m delighted that his hard work has been acknowledged in this way”. Michael, an RAF veteran cared for at the Surbiton home, who himself has an MBE for services to Scouting, said: “His devotion to his work is extraordinary. Emrys takes tremendous care in looking after residents, and I’m delighted that it’s now been recognised by Her Majesty the Queen”.

Emrys is just one of many dedicated, compassionate HCAs across the UK who are adored by their colleagues and residents. While not everyone is lucky enough to receive a medal from the Queen, anyone can pass on gratitude and thanks to the great people they work with.

 Half a century of service

Last month, nurse turned healthcare assistant, Rose Lowe, retired from her post at the local contraception and sexual health service in King’s Lynn following a 53-year-long career in the NHS. When she joined the clinic 15 years ago, it supported just seven HIV patients. Today, it works with hundreds.

Rose began her career in 1969 in a hospital in east London – the same year that The Beatles recorded Abbey Road and Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. She loves to make a difference to the lives of those she treats and has never once regretted her decision to train. She was a registered nurse for many years before ‘retiring’ to become a healthcare assistant as she wasn’t quite ready to leave.

Her inspiration to go into nursing came after Rose was admitted to hospital and watched an old school friend nursing. At the time she thought how satisfying and interesting it seemed and little did she know then where her career would take her. Thanks to Rose – and many more like her across the UK and beyond – millions of patients receive the level of care they expect and deserve every week. The number of peoples’ lives a nurse can touch over so many years is immense.

Celebrating carers – and the wider teams which support them

Estates Deputy Manager at neurological care specialist, PJ Care, Grant Mugford, was recently named ‘Ancillary Worker of the Year’ at the Great British Care Awards 2021.

While many people automatically associate great care with the nurses and healthcare assistants on the front line, it takes an entire team to deliver exceptional service. Talking about his work, Grant, who previously worked as an electrician, commented: “From turning someone’s TV on for them in the morning to letting them help me ‘paint’ with a brush and some water, I see it as part of my job to help residents have the very best quality of life.”

When visits from loved ones and trips into the community were restricted because of lockdowns, Grant put extra effort into creating opportunities for residents, as he explains, “We were redecorating one of the lounges, so I got them involved in choosing new wallpaper.  For residents with dementia, I made electrical-themed puzzle or ‘twiddle’ boards so they could enjoy plugging things in and switching switches. I looked for every opportunity to give them a task, like ticking off my health and safety list, because it gives them a sense of purpose and they feel needed, which is hugely important”. When celebrating carers, we mustn’t forget that kind and empathetic individuals like Grant can make a huge difference to the lives of residents.

To all those administering care directly, working in support roles in care homes, or looking after a family member or friend who needs extra help, we salute you.

Caring’s impact on all aspects of life from relationships to physical and mental health, can be significant, and carers across the UK have undoubtedly faced more difficult circumstances this year in the wake of the pandemic than ever before. While many feel that caring is one of the most important things they do, its challenges should not be underestimated. It is vitally important that we recognise the contribution carers make to their families and local communities, workplaces, and society, and that they get the support and recognition they need and deserve. These compassionate individuals make a vital contribution, and their hard work must be acknowledged. From everyone at QS – to all the professional and unpaid carers out there – we’d like to say thank you.