Louisa at The Old Downs tells us what it’s like to assume a brand new role in a Care Home in amidst a global pandemic:

“At the beginning of November 2020, I joined the team at The Old Downs to fill the new role of Recreation and Well-Being Liaison Officer. Having never worked in the care industry before, and going into a brand new role that the Care Home had never seen before, it’s safe to say I was really unsure of what to expect.

So you can really understand what I mean, let me tell you a bit about myself. When the pandemic kicked off at the beginning of 2020, I was a Head Teacher of an English school in Chengdu, China. Prior to that, I had taught in Thailand and Japan. I specialised in teaching English as a Foreign Language to children (usually the very young children). As you can imagine, the coronavirus pandemic had quite a big effect on my job and my travels!

I moved back to the UK and continued online teaching until it was clear that I was moving back to the UK for good. At that point, I still had not considered working in a Care Home until I saw the position for R&W Liaison Officer. It was only for a six-month position and I thought it would put me in a good position to work out what I was going to do now that I was back in the UK. So I took a chance on it, and The Old Downs took a chance on me.

That six-month position has lasted a lot longer than expected and after a year in, I’m still learning every day from the staff and residents at The Old Downs. I’ve been asked to look back on my year in the care industry and think about what I have learnt. It’s a difficult question considering just how much I have learnt! Probably, the biggest take away I will have from this role so far is just how interesting it has been.

I worked closely with the families of our residents and built the life histories of each individual. Our residents have the most fascinating histories that need to be cherished by each member of staff. Every time I picked up some new information about the residents, I shared it with the staff who were excited to learn something new about the people they loved and cared for; people who might not have been able to tell you themselves. They were then able to provide even better person-centred care.

The staff at The Old Downs changed my view of what a ‘Carer’ is meant to be. One of the team once told me, “I see every resident here like my own grandad or nan”, and I really feel like that encapsulates the attitude of the care team at The Old Downs. It’s one thing to care for someone physically; it’s another thing entirely to care for them on an emotional level like we do here.

Now I’ve had some time to work out where I’m going in future, I have returned back to university to complete my PGCE for Primary Education so I can teach in the UK. However, I couldn’t be pulled away completely and continue to work at The Old Downs on the weekends. I’ve noticed just how much of an impact working in the care industry has had on my attitudes as a teacher. Just this week, at university, we got into a discussion about the benefits of closely working with and communicating with Care Home residents. Already, I have a ton of ideas of how to bring those two worlds together!”