Working as a Caregiver in the U.K.
Often the most rewarding and satisfying jobs tend to either involve volunteer work or are incredibly badly paid. Working in an orphanage in Bolivia or teaching the children of AIDS victims are among some of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever done, but as I have aged and have more financial responsibilities, volunteering is simply not an option anymore. However, if like me, you still want to contribute something to the community, please read on. If you are able to work in the U.K., a job does exist that allows you to help others. The work does not require any previous training. It pays incredibly well and often takes you to most beautiful, obscure, and unknown villages in the U.K. On top of all of this, the job allows you to choose when and where you work. So you can work a month, and then travel for three. Work for twelve months, travel for two years! It sounds intriguing, I’m sure. Well it is.
The job is called caring. And it really is as simple as that. If you are a naturally caring individual, with lots of patience and a good sense of humor, you have the potential to become a caregiver.
So what is involved in caring? You are sent via an agency to the home of an individual (or at times a couple), and you are expected to stay with that person in their house—usually for about two weeks. You are provided with room and board. Your travel costs to and from the client’s house are also paid for as well—in addition to a daily wage, which at the moment is between about £60 and £85. Your role in that person’s home varies according to your daily wage. On the lower end of the wage scale, you will only have to cook meals and provide some companionship—perhaps with some light housework. On a slightly higher end of the wage scale, you will have to engage in personal care. Personal care is slightly more complicated, but with experience, such care giving becomes easier to handle. You will have to assist the individual with washing, whether in the shower, bath, or in their beds, and sometimes help them with going to the toilet. Often, agencies request that you be a driver and they will need a copy of your driving license. But even if you don’t have a driving license, don’t be put off from applying as there are many jobs with housebound patients who do not require being driven at all.
The most highly paid of all the jobs usually involve a couple or an individual in need or constant attention. You can always request the job level you wish. You will never be sent into one of the more these more difficult forms of booking either when you are just starting out or if you have not requested it.
Once accepted, after a friendly informal interview, the agency will often require you to undergo between a day and four days of training. The training offered by the agency will provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge you will need before your first booking with a client. One of the most interesting elements to this job is helping with rehabilitation. Often, the clients are taking part in a therapy program, such as speech and language therapy, or more commonly, physiotherapy. Although you might not have any training in therapy whatsoever, you will be trained by the previous caregiver what exercises to do in order to help the patient progress. The previous caregiver will also wait for your arrival on your start date and stay with you for at least half an hour in order to talk you through the job and introduce you to the client.
The job is intense, as you are living and working with the client for two weeks—day and night. You do receive a minimum of two hours off per day, and these are two very valuable hours. If you are provided with a car, which you often are, you can go anywhere in the area. Because the majority of clients are fairly wealthy, you will often be placed in the more stunning regions of the U. K. Gorgeous little villages, charming towns, and the occasional stint in ever-buzzing London will allow you to get know parts of Britain that many Brits don’t even know exist.
Another interesting part of the job is that you occasionally might be sent to a very well-known individual or family. I have been fortunate to be sent on several such assignments, and they can be incredibly interesting jobs since the individuals are often fascinating.
In all of the ways I have used to describe the job of care giving, I have intentionally never used the word “easy.” The job is incredibly challenging, daunting, and often, distressing. You might be working with someone who is suffering from a terminal illness. It can obviously be very sad to watch somebody experiencing such pain. But the ability to make that person laugh and momentarily forget that they are ill is exhilarating. Once you are an established care giver, you find the clients you prefer to work with and can return repeatedly to be with them, provided both parties are happy with the arrangement.
I am British and have been doing this job on and off for several years. It is a unique, interesting, and ideal way not only to do a more meaningful job but also to fund travel. Because you are not paying for rent, and as your social life becomes limited for the time during which you are working, you are able to save a lot of money very quickly. In addition, the job allows you to stop and start whenever you want. The only financial outlay will be when you are between jobs. If you choose to take only a few days off between jobs, you’ll need to pay for a hostel or bed and breakfast. If you’d like to take more time off, it might make more sense to rent a room somewhere—that is, if you haven’t already bought a ticket to somewhere exciting to reward yourself!
||Caroline Nye has traveled and worked extensively all over the world, working in organic farming, wildlife guiding, teaching and musical performance, as well as volunteering in various international development projects. She has had articles and short stories published in Amateur Photographer (UK), Matador Travel, and The Healing Project book series, and recently won a Bunac Green Cheese scholarship for humorous writing. Caroline is currently managing a dance team in Spain.