Why care workers are such a valuable resource

The chief executive of the National Association of Care and Support Workers on how members can work with nurses to provide better care

National Association of Care and Support Workers chief executive Karolina Gerlich explains how members can work with nurses to provide better care

Care workers may form close relationships with people. Picture: Charles Milligan

The National Association of Care and Support Workers (NACAS) was founded in 2016. This professional association is owned and managed by its members. 

Through them, it works hard to improve training standards and ensure that care and support workers get the respect and recognition they deserve. 

A variety of titles are given to those who provide care professionally: NACAS members are home carers, care home carers, personal assistants, support workers and healthcare assistants, as well as managers. 

Care workers support people to stay at home or live in a care home and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions. 

Help and support

Care workers with experience in dementia can support patients in hospital with nutrition and hydration and personal care while other staff members are occupied elsewhere, as well as providing them with much-needed companionship and reassurance. 

They can help reduce the number of delayed transfers of care and provide people with appropriate help and support after hospitalisation. 

Regardless of our job title, we all provide care to people and may spend a great deal of time with them, which means we get to know the person’s needs and preferences, often participating in private and intimate aspects of their life.

Developing relationships

We support those we care for physically, mentally and socially, and often form close relationships. To be able to deliver care, we work hard to establish trust and continuously reinforce mutual respect and understanding.

The close relationships that we develop with people mean that we have a thorough understanding of their needs. Care workers are a familiar face, helping people feel safe.

We are a valuable resource that should be used widely to provide person-centred care. Always happy to help, care workers can explain our clients' issues and needs to other healthcare staff and recommend the best way to interact with them. 

We can provide medical history, as well as details of medication, exercise and diet, and moods and symptoms that people hesitate to share because they are embarrassed.

Familiar presence

I have been a professional care worker for eight years. In that time, I’ve seen how people with dementia struggle with hospital admission. 

For example, a couple of years ago, one of my female clients had knee surgery. She had moderate dementia and was scared of hospitals. My presence with her everyday kept her calm and made her feel safer; the familiarity of my face and voice reassured her. 

As she had no family, I was the only reliable source of recent medical history and medication details. Communicating this to the doctors, nurses and other staff helped to ensure she received the best treatment possible. 

I was able to encourage her to eat properly, and after her physiotherapy assessment my support to do the required exercises helped her recover quickly from the surgery. 

Working together

NACAS believes that by working together, nurses and care workers can improve the quality of healthcare, make people feel less isolated in healthcare settings and reduce the number of days people are away from home. 

We would like to invite the nursing community to help us provide better care and capitalise on our skills and experience. 

Further information

National Association of Care & Support Workers

Karolina Gerlich is chief executive of the National Association of Care and Support Workers 

To find out more email Karolina@nacas.org.uk

This article is for subscribers only