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2015 i-CARE Winner – Mary Bradley

Mary BradleyNational Winner – 2nd Place

Put simply, “There’s no place like home.” I have seen that feeling radiate from so many elderly faces living at home thanks to Bluebird Care. Two of my clients with Dementia and three with early Alzheimer’s can clearly relate deep gratitude for living at home forcing me to ask ‘why can’t everyone live in their own home for as long as humanly possible?’ I have concluded that fear is often the culprit. And I confess to knowing to that fear.

I worked with the elderly in America as part of my training to register to become a Nurse in New Jersey in 2013. I am a newly qualified American Registered Nurse with the most up to date, state of the art, best in the world, academy level USA nursing training. I trained in various nursing homes and was told that America does it best. The best care for the elderly requires nursing homes, with hair and nail salons, coffee shops, fine dining, exquisite art work and décor surrounded by immaculately manicured trees and shrubs to effectively mask the steel gates of entry and exit.

I remember my first placement. I remember Joey and Marge begging me to take them home. They didn’t know each other but both had early Alzheimer’s. And I remember telling them with the wide-eyed innocence of a cadet that they were home and how very lucky they were to be in the best place possible. And I remember meeting Joey’s son, Josh, looking for reception to see if he could find a longer term method of payment so he could afford his father’s care.

My family and I moved back to Ireland. With three teenagers and a husband commuting to the UK and an American Nursing license that requires further training to adapt to Irish standards, I am not in a position to work full-time. I need flexible hours. I heard Bluebird Care advertised on the radio and I was curious. Curious, but skeptical. I mean, if Bluebird Care worked exceptionally well, America would have something similar in place for the elderly. I concluded that Bluebird Care would probably be an acceptable option for people who couldn’t afford a decent Nursing home.

The flexible hours and friendly office environment convinced me to apply for work there, but to be honest, if anyone in my family got sick or really old, I would obviously re-mortgage my home and get them the best possible nursing care.

I started working with Bluebird Care in January 2015 and I have learned more about caring for people in the last nine months than the three years I spent in Nursing School. I feel like an everyday hero. The best possible care for the elderly can be affordable. It should be affordable. And it should be delivered to their doorstep. Bluebird Care should be available worldwide. It is affordable, compassionate care delivered with dignity to your doorstep.

My favorite thing about my job is knowing that the people I care for in their homes are happy. Despite Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and a whole host of other conditions that don’t even have proper names, they are as happy as they can be. They are living as fully independently as possible from the comfort of their own homes doing the best they possibly can with whatever they have. It all feels very right.

Some clients require more visits than others. Some, who are bedridden, need to be turned and changed often. But, it is very doable. There is nothing to be afraid of. And, so many of my clients are just old there is nothing wrong with them except the very natural process of ageing. And others still, aren’t old at all. They are often just recovering from surgery. I love the variety and can’t believe I was ever afraid of homecare or ever thought that a nursing home or hospital could deliver better care. I wish everyone knew what I know now. The happiness people feel about being home, I firmly believe helps them live longer fuller lives and one day there will be studies proving this. Independence empowers self-esteem and happiness. I receive deep-felt gratitude daily. Sometimes it’s for taking out the ashes or making a light meal, or prompting medication. Other times it can be for helping with a hoist transfer or catheter care or assisting with a shower. Even if it’s just for taking a trip to the corner shop, I have observed that the level of gratitude is usually the same.

I have learned to take pride in doing simple tasks, exceptionally well. It is the simple tasks that people often take for granted, that become critically important as we age or get sick. Often, help with very simple tasks can keep a person living in their own home for years.

Some Bluebird Care calls require two carers. I can honestly say that I have never worked with anybody less competent than myself. In my experience, Bluebird Care’s carers are exceptionally well-trained. It is also my experience that, whoever works for Bluebird Care, genuinely does it from the heart. That gives Bluebird Care a completely different edge in the field of homecare. Compassionate care delivered with dignity cannot be taught. It is felt.

I feel privileged in my work because it is an honour to be invited into somebody’s home to care for them. With every shower or body wash, there is an opportunity for a full skin assessment and with consistent, uniform, daily charting, change is easy to see. If there is a change in the client, even if they just seem off, or a little more confused than usual, I just pick up my phone and call the office to report my concern knowing that they will follow up with the appropriate professional. My phone also has client family member phone numbers to alert if need be. I never feel alone on the job. I know the office always has my back.

Finally, it is impossible not to make friends with clients, but there does seem to be an effective Bluebird Care code of conduct that I have adopted into my own practice and observed in the care provided by my colleagues whom I have been fortunate to meet. We manage to maintain a professional distance purely to make sure that the service we provide is consistently of the highest standards.

I believe that to care for another person represents life’s greatest value and I am thankful to be in a position daily to do so many little things for a variety of people knowing that I am making a big difference in their lives.