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Do you care enough to be a care worker?

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A new recruitment drive to encourage more people in Oxfordshire to become care workers has been launched on 20 November 2017. 

The campaign - 'Make a difference every day' - features a number of real life care workers, already supporting people across the county, talking about the rewards of the job and why they would recommend the job to others.

Oxfordshire currently has around 14,200 people working in adult social care, but the county's ageing population is growing at twice the average, so there is an urgent need for more caring, friendly and reliable care workers to support older, frail people in their own homes, in nursing and residential homes or in community hospital settings.

According to a new workforce survey, by Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, nine out of ten care workers say they are proud of the work they do.More than 95 percent of care workers say the job they do makes a positive difference to other people, while more than 80 percent of care workers surveyed would recommend their jobs to others.

Joseph Ndori, 42, runs his own care company, Everycare Oxford, which provides personal care services to more than 20 older people in the county. Joseph was born in Zimbabwe, where he worked as a business consultant until his mid-30s.

He left Africa in 2011 after the economy slowed to join his wife in the UK, before embarking on a career as a care worker. Over the past six years he has worked for a variety of local care organisations, including the NHS, gaining valuable experience and training in domiciliary care, mental health and learning disabilities.

His care business has already been inspected by the Care Quality Commission and received a 'Good' rating, and he was recently nominated for and won a Dignity in Care Award from Age UK Oxfordshire in the 'care and support staff' category.

Joseph said: "When I came to live in Oxford six years ago, my wife and sister-in-law encouraged me to become a care worker, and once I got a taste for the tasks and the responsibilities of caring for people I never looked back.

"What gives me a great sense of satisfaction is being able to empathise with people, to understand their situation and to get to know them and not just the disease or condition they have.

"If you want to make a real difference to improving people's lives I would encourage people to get a job as a care worker.

"Being patient and kind is very important to becoming an effective care worker, as it helps you get to know people better so you can understand their needs. Care workers must be flexible and realise that each person is different, you must respect the individual's choice, needs and preferences.

"I believe I am making a difference every day in my job, every client is different and you are helping them to cope with simple daily living tasks and difficult situations. I really try and do my job to the best of my ability because if the role was reversed and I needed care I would want to be treated with respect and dignity."

Care workers help people with personal care like washing and dressing. They also prepare food, feed people and give out medication.

Some care work involves carrying out more general tasks like housework, laundry and shopping. Care workers may also help people manage their money, pay bills and write letters, or support families to get used to new caring responsibilities.

Care work can also lead to further career opportunities.

Anita Crook, 46, works for Oxford Health at the NHS Fiennes Centre in Banbury. She works alongside her colleagues supporting patients in the community in Banbury and surrounding villages with the aim of preventing illnesses from becoming more serious, so keeping people out of hospital and in the comfort of their own homes.

Anita has been a care worker since she was 18. She moved into her current role more than two years ago and is also studying for a foundation degree learning new clinical skills to become an Assistant Practitioner.

She said: "My current job allows me to use my clinical skills and to communicate with patients - both these aspects of my job are very important and if they help make a patient more comfortable even for one day that is great.

"In this job you need to develop relationships with patients so you can sit down with them, listen to their needs and provide the support they want. I think the key qualities are understanding, patience and flexibility.

"I really would recommend this job to other people because I'm not stuck in an office and I have a great deal of autonomy to carry out my varied tasks as part of a hard working team. I definitely feel valued and appreciated by my colleagues who support me with my job and my studies - they have been brilliant.

"In this job you get back what you put in which for me is a great deal of satisfaction."

The campaign is being jointly run and funded by Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), Oxford Health, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) in partnership with the Oxfordshire Association of Care Providers (OACP).

It is expected to run throughout the coming four months and the county's residents will see advertising on buses and billboards, on social media, via the radio and at face to face events such as careers fairs.

It is targeting specific groups of people including older women who are looking for a career change or are at retirement age but not yet ready to stop working, parents who may want to work flexibly around family commitments, and younger people who may want to work flexibly.

Anyone interested in applying for care work vacancies in Oxfordshire will be encouraged to visit the OACP website, which hosts a range of vacancies, both in the NHS and with private care companies.