In our first 2-part blog, Beth Britton interviews one of ENA’s Care Managers, Matt Blanche, to find out what his day-to-day work involves and why he loves supporting people to find their ideal live-in carer.
So much is written about the negative aspects of poor social care provision and the impact this has on disabled, elderly, or vulnerable people, but what is the opposite viewpoint? What does social care look like when it transforms people’s lives?
To explore this I caught up with Matt Blanche, one of ENA’s Care Managers, to find out about his experiences of supporting ENA’s clients and live-in carers, and learn about the connections that make live-in care so special.
Hi Matt, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Before we discuss your work at ENA, I’m interested to know what brought you into social care.
It all started 10 years ago. I was working in insurance and between jobs. A friend suggested I do some bank work at the local hospital and I ended up working there for 4 years, predominantly on nights. I decided to train to be a nurse, and then went to work in a care home. I loved the residents but found it hard when so many who had become friends died.
I decided to move away from the frontline and I became a care co-ordinator for a homecare agency, but the job became very office-based, especially at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, and I really missed having contact with clients. I joined ENA a year ago as they offered a better balance with more face-to-face client work which is really important to me.
That’s a big leap from insurance to care! Is it one you’re glad you made?
Definitely. This is the only job I’ve ever done that truly makes a difference to people’s lives. It is an honour and a privilege to be able to support our clients, and I’m so proud when I see the achievements and milestones that our clients reach as a result of having a live-in carer who is the perfect match for them.
What does your day-to-day job as an ENA Care Manager involve?
I support 14 clients and their live-in carers, and every day for me revolves around ensuring everything is ok with them. I call all of my clients and carers daily, speaking to either or both people. It’s vital to ensure I know the contact preferences of our clients; some prefer not to be bothered by my calls, or only speak to me occasionally or when there is an update I need to share with them, while others like a regular chat. I will always speak to their live-in carer though.
Our carers are our eyes and ears, so general conversation is so important to pick up details of how their client is and also how they are. Live-in care work can have a reputation for being isolating and lonely, and I always say to my live-in carers that I’m available anytime, whatever they need to talk about. I feel it’s really important for them and for our clients that they have a go-to person who is always accessible.
The administration side of what I do is daily checks of our electronic PASS system, the portal our carers use to record all of their notes and medication records. I also spend time chasing things up for clients with other healthcare providers, and communicating with my colleagues in the office to ensure everyone is kept up-to-date.
I know you love your visits to clients and carers. Tell me about what happens on those days?
The highlight of my contact with our clients and live-in carers is my weekly client visit, which could be anywhere from Wales to Oxford, Milton Keynes to Devon. These visits are a fantastic opportunity for me to see how the relationships are developing between our clients and live-in carers. We talk about anything and everything as directed by the client and their live-in carer.
As a company we are working on making our care plans more detailed and personalised than ever before, so all of those rich conversations are translated into the plans we have to ensure our care is as optimal as possible for our clients.
Part of my working week can also include visits to prospective new clients, and the visits that are needed at the start of a new live-in carer placement. These are vital to ensure the carer and client are well-matched, and the care being delivered is meeting (or hopefully exceeding) the client’s needs.
Matt, you have a diverse background in health and social care. What, for you, makes live-in care so special?
Live-in care is really not like any other type of care. In hospital patients rotate so quickly that you never get to know people. In a care home you care for multiple people, so you never know individuals as well. Domiciliary care, even with hour+ visits, is still in and out. But live-in care provides the time for relationships to develop, and for me those carer and client bonds is where the magic of live-in care lies.
Carers that remain with the same client for a long time really get to know their client, and it gets to the point where they can suggest new hobbies or new things to try. They might have in-jokes together or dovetail each other’s sentences. They become co-dependent. They are like family, which for some of our clients who were previously isolated, lonely or with minimal or no contact with family and friends, is transformational for their health and wellbeing, particularly their mental health.
—- Look out for Part 2 of Matt’s interview coming soon! —-