Opinion

Awe-inspiring people.

Karolina Gerlich, CEO and Founding Director, National Association of Care & Support Workers Ltd

This year I had the privilege, once again, of judging at the Great British Care Awards.

I attended the regional event in London, and was lucky enough to judge the category that is the closest to my heart – home care worker.

The morning was filled with talks by amazing care workers, about the great things that they do at wok everyday.

One common theme between them all, was that they felt they were ‘just’ doing their job, and that care work was a lifestyle and not a career.

A lot of the nominees had no idea who nominated them and didn’t even think that they deserved it. I was sitting there listening, and feeling inspired and humbled by their work. I spoke to people that put those they look after before anything else. I heard of bosses that support their staff in making positive change; bosses that pay for taxis to ensure their valued care workers can come in to work and deliver outstanding care.

I interviewed Isabel, who went on to win the national final ¬– who gets to work everyday with severe arthritis, and comes up with great ideas to support people in the forensic mental health setting. It took some probing to get Isabel to admit that many ideas were hers, as she kept on saying ‘we’ and ‘our’, since she leads an amazing team.

The afternoon session included Care Innovators who had demonstrated amazing innovations in social care – from new software, to new activities initiatives. It filled me with hope that so many people put such great effort into improving the sector.

The National Finals in Birmingham were even harder to judge, with all the regional winners coming together. This time I was speaking to care co-ordinators. It was very interesting to hear how their duties vary from one care setting to another, and from one provider to another. I learnt and heard a lot about challenges and complexity of their roles. Some of them were greatly supported in their personal development, and others were doing jobs of registered managers. All of them are putting an amazing amount of hard work into looking after people every day, to the best of their ability.

Themes of person- and relationship-centred care came up quite often on both judging days.

Passion, commitment and drive to deliver the best care possible – sometimes within very specific confines of a particular care setting or situation – were awe-inspiring.

Judging at the Great British Care Awards is one of the most inspiring, humbling and motivating experiences I ever have.

I wish that the mainstream media would finally consider broadcasting the Awards Gala to show the society that amazing work worth applauding and awards is delivered in social care every day.

Let’s fight negative media representations of care workers as low-skilled abusers and thieves. Let’s promote and shout out loud about awards like this that show the real face of care work that is highly skilled and can be done only be a special kind of people. Care work that is extremely rewarding but also challenging and difficult; and most of all, care work that puts people first and gets very creative in delivering outstanding care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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