Continuing our blog series highlighting how women working in the care sector are undervalued and underpaid, an assistant health worker at an elderly care home talks about how much she values the work she does and why care shouldn't be seen as unskilled work.

I’ve worked for seven years as a healthcare assistant and in the last six months I’ve been working as an assistant health worker for a charity organisation for the blind, based in Leicester. My duties are to assist the elderly and vulnerable residents with their day-to-day activities which includes assisting them with their personal care, administering medication and providing end of life care.

I really value the people under my care because these are people who have experienced life and have played their part in society. They are someone's mother, father, uncle, grandparent, and in their old age, especially at a time when they cannot fend for themselves, they need to be shown love and care. It makes a lot of difference in the lives of people we look after as we provide their needs at a time when they rely on us the most.

But some residents can be very difficult to handle. I've experienced occasions where clients have been verbally and physically abusive, but I've not received much in the way of support to deal with it. 

I think some people think care work is for low-minded and uneducated people. The government has even tagged it as an unskilled job. Care work is consistently undermined yet we receive training and to some extent we can actually save lives. One mistake made on the job and you can be taken to court, so how can this be considered an unskilled profession?

Care work during the coronavirus pandemic

Lately it has been harder to commute to work because there is not much public transport available due to the coronavirus pandemic. So I rely on taxis to get to work, which is risky because you do not know who will transfer the virus to you or where you will get the virus. I think the government could offer free transport at this time because most of my salary is now spent on transportation.

I do feel safe at work because PPE is widely available for staff to use. However, this job is draining and tiring yet we work more hours with no extra pay, especially now as I have to cover staff who are unable to come to work because of the pandemic. Although the conditions where I currently work are much better than most, the majority of care agencies pay minimum wage without any allowances or bonuses. For this reason, care workers are always struggling with money. I think the government should remove the unskilled job tag and ensure that agencies pay care workers appreciable salaries.

In the long term we truly deserve total support from the government in the form of allowances or bonuses. After all our aim is to provide our elderly and most vulnerable in society with consistent care and good quality of life and that should be rewarded accordingly.