By far and away, the most stressful position that I have yet to experience in the health and social care sector is a care coordinator for a large home care company. The pressure is immense. What you have as a care coordinator is an accelerating ageing population matched with bloated rules and regulations.
The healthcare sector is referred to as the hot potato sector because there is just so much liability on the companies/individuals if anything does ever go wrong. We are dealing with people’s lives after all, but you would think that the compensation would match the responsibility…it does not even come close.
So let’s break the job of a care coordinator in the domiciliary sector down a bit by bit. This will help you understand what is involved in the job if you ever wanted to try the job so that you know what to expect when applying.
Carers are always a mixed bag. You will never manage to get a team of fantastic carers at all times. For some reason, the law of averages always throws in a few troublesome ones. You can generally tell early on who will be good and who will be a headache to manage, for some the work of a carer comes so naturally that you would think they had been doing it for years.
Other carers will start out making a lot of mistakes, but with the right guidance will eventually make excellent carers and these are the ones who go on to management because they tend to learn new things more quickly and retain the information when taught.
Then there are the carers who will never be good at their job, always miserable, always complaining about the office, always making the same mistakes and never learning from them – because they don’t want to. With the healthcare sector being as it is, you can’t just fire them either, carers are surprisingly hard to come by so you will need to learn how to manage their weaknesses. Mostly you can put them on the runs which you know requires less effort, or you can put them on a double run with an experienced carer to allow for their mistakes.
Carers are your most important tools for effectively doing your job. Do everything you can to keep them happy, but at the same time make sure that you don’t let them take advantage. If they want a holiday and they haven’t given enough notice then don’t do it if you think they will not appreciate you going the extra mile. Be flexible where you can but only if the carer is willing to be flexible for you when you need them.
As a care coordinator, you will be working very closely with the families of those under your care. This can be an enormous help for you as the coordinator as most families will do anything for their family members, but it can also be one of the most stressful relationships a coordinator has to do as well.
For many families, a carer will never be able to do the job right no matter how much they try, not because of the carers competency but because the family will simply never be completely happy.
Some family members you will never see until their mother/father passes away and the inheritance check comes in. This can be a heart-wrenching experience if you have provided care for the individual for so long and you watch on in disgust as their family members come on the scene as vultures tearing away at their whole life savings.
There are also the family members who are really just appreciative to have the help of a carer. These are the best families to work with as you can get a lot done for the person you are providing care for.
The Social Workers
Social workers are a funny bunch. Mostly they will spend their time calling you about any changes in care, trying to ask for time specific calls for their clients, relaying the families wishes to you, organising reviews and generally keeping you on your toes while coordinating the elderly clients care packages.
Unfortunately, the job of a social worker attracts a lot of self-righteous individuals who take it upon themselves to dig for dirt, even if it’s not there. They will charge into you with no evidence of wrongdoing or intentional bad care provisions because they can believe they are the saviour of the client. These are the bad social workers, the ones who make your job a lot harder but most importantly have a negative impact on the care being provided. When a social worker’s sole purpose is to try to find the negatives in care being provided, this creates a negative environment for the client.
Carers will not enjoy going into seeing the client because they know every move will be scrutinised and judged. That has a knock on effect onto the client who is then even more complacent about the care being provided, and the self-righteous social worker becomes even more active…vicious cycle!
I should stress that not all social workers are like this. Some social workers are pig ignorant and so appear to be rude because they don’t know what to do to help their client, then there are those who actually do try to do their best.
The good social workers never last long. They either get so frustrated with the social care sector because they begin to realise there is little they can do to influence things, or they get promotions or move on to more senior roles.