Communication and compassion drives care industry forward

What do you enjoy the most about working in care industry?

The world of healthcare and working in this industry offers many people rewards and benefits.

There is never a dull moment and it is rare to experience the same day twice.
Quite often people will ask what do you do for a living and when I tell them that I look after the elderly and specialise in those who have Alzheimer’s or a form of dementia. Often I get the reply “oh I admire what you do, I couldn’t do that you must have a lot of patience”. I know lots of healthcare professionals out there get the same reaction I’ve heard it a lot after almost 10 years in the profession. Sometimes it even makes me smile because yes there are a lot of people who could not do the job, you have to be a special kind of person.
For me I am passionate about every person having the care that they want and deserve. It didn’t take me long to work out in this profession that there are a lot of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia who don’t get listened to properly. I expect carers to listen and take their time wherever possible especially when they are looking after a person with Alzheimer’s.


What are the most important qualities a care home professional should have?


I believe that great health care professionals should have excellent communication skills that include being able to listen and speak clearly to residents and their families. They should be able to feel compassion and provide comfort and overall have empathy for the person they are caring for.
Health care can be stressful, long shifts and quite often the professional may encounter many traumatic situations. They need to be able to work without allowing the stress to cause them personal harm. Great health care professional always respect people and rules they should always be mindful of their employers confidentiality policies and respect the different cultures and traditions.


What is your personal motivation to work in the care home industry?

Caring is an active engagement in the total well-being of the person – putting the person’s needs at the centre of everything you do for them. This includes promoting, preserving and encouraging their capabilities and interests.

care-home-Christine ElsleyTo achieve this we need to share experiences with our colleagues and provide additional information for those staff that have an interest and enthusiasm for person-centred care. People understand better when they relate key ideas to their own life and for many they learn while they are doing.

I feel very privileged to be able to work with many individuals who share their lives with people on a daily basis and go that extra mile to help others.


Christine Elsley is a lead practitioner in Dementia Care and has a degree in Dementia studies. Most of all, she is passionate about people with dementia being looked after with dignity.

Tips for finding the right care home from industry insider Janis McFarlane

What do you enjoy the most about working in care home industry?
I enjoy working with people from all walks of life, residents and their families, managers and staff and related health professionals. No two days are ever the same; each day brings something different and a new challenge to be solved. I particularly enjoy teaching staff and showing them that excellent quality care can and is provided within care homes. Observing staff develop their confidence, skills and meaningful relations with residents brings a smile to my face and gives me the “oomph” to carry on promoting care in care homes, deal with suppliers, develop policies and manage the accounts!

What are the most important qualities a care home professional should have?Apartment building in the city with a spectacular sky
A genuine desire to care, we can teach our staff many things including how to be a professional care person, we cannot teach staff how to be “caring” that is inbuilt in the person.
Respect for other peoples beliefs and choices in life whether we agree or not, being able to support someone to carry on with their wishes that you don’t personally agree with is difficult especially for young care givers.
Compassion, understanding and patience all very easy to say, but far more difficult to deliver if they are not inherent qualities.
The ability to work with the ethos, we work in our residents’ homes they do not live in our work place. Lastly, a sense of humour, the ability to enjoy and have pride in being a professional care giver is essential.
To all the people out there looking for a care home for themselves or their loved ones, what is the best advice you would offer? 
Visit many homes and visit the same home on different days at different times without the need for an appointment with the manager. Speak with residents of the home if possible; find out if they enjoy living there. Observe the staff interactions with the residents and go by your own instinct and feelings. Ask many questions and go prepared with a list of all you want to know no matter how trivial you may think they are, every little detail is important to you and your loved one.
If you were given money and resources to set up a research group, what would you research on the UK care home industry?
Where do all the teaspoons go? Only joking!
Possibly the healing of pressure ulcers that have not developed in the care home or the experiences of relatives concerning “a good death”. I think care homes bench mark themselves against external standards of other organisations and there are many areas of care that external organisations should bench mark against good care homes.

What is the key issue facing the care home industry in this country?
Finance, sustainability and a wider understanding publically of what we do well, what we are expected and required to do, what we wish to do and the financial restraints we face in being able to deliver what we are capable of doing. We are caring for more complex care needs not just in elderly care, we have seen an increase in the need for care of younger people with long term complex needs as a result of trauma and substance misuse entering care homes, we can deliver the care, we can meet their needs however we need reasonable fee structures to enable us to do so. A healthy dose of respect for our services wouldn’t go amiss and whilst bad news sells newspapers a readdressing of the balance of good news stories would be appreciated!

care-home-Janis McFarlane

Janis McFarlane has worked in the care sector for 33 years, she was also trained as a registered general nurse in Fife and worked within the NHS in Fife and Forth Valley in acute areas before embarking on a journey over the last 23 years within the independent care sector that has seen many, many changes in that time. During that time, she has worked as a home manager, regional and senior regional manager and her current role is Director of Operations with The Holmes Care (Group) Ltd. Her passion is end of life care, we don’t get a second chance to get this right, and to be with someone at the end of their life is a privilege. Her aim is to continue to break down myths and barriers surrounding what happens in a care home and to facilitate our managers and their teams through learning and empowerment to provide the very best experience and memories for residents and their families that we possibly can.