good life, good death, good grief

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Shopping and Mopping? Think again.

In this special blog to mark Death Awareness Week Scotland, Jane Perry discusses palliative and end of life care from her perspective as Operations Director for Bluebird Care, a provider of private care at home.

The work done by care at home support workers is definitely not the “shopping and mopping” service so cruelly described by many. Bluebird Care staff have to deal with all kinds of situations. From getting up in the cold dark mornings facing the rush hour traffic, to supporting someone to die how they choose in their own home – Bluebird Care staff are big hearted, passionate caring professionals who deserve to be recognised for the hard work they do in the community.

I’m very proud of our teams and every single one of them knows this. If as an employer I don’t look after our front line workforce, who will look after our customers?

With this in mind, at the Bluebird Care Offices in Edinburgh we have a “Zen Room” that any of our staff can pop in to use – whether on a break, having their lunch, or working on a SVQ qualification. If one of our customers has died, we use this room for support and comfort as part of the grieving process. It’s a very tranquil space, usually with a scented candle, water feature, soft furnishings and forest mural on the wall.

We are providing more and more end of life and palliative care and I want to make sure all our staff is equipped to deal with this. We provide training in this area to all staff who are interested. We now provide staff with training in “Innovation in Death; The Last Taboo” and I’ve found this has really helped staff to have confidence and expertise in supporting our customers towards the end of life.

We also want to find appropriate ways of opening up the conversation about death with our customers - we want to make this previously taboo subject something openly discussed and planned for. We come into this world with a birth plan, so why not have a death plan too?! We are hosting a Death Café on 10th May in our Edinburgh office as part of Death Awareness Week and can’t wait to get tongues wagging.

Bluebird Care have been trading in Edinburgh for 9 years and in Glasgow for nearly 4 years. Being a quality care at home provider involves a lot of thinking on your feet, improvisation and tenacity, and I have dealt with all kinds of situations over the years. It’s been a real rollercoaster from trying to find private care at home for my terminally ill grandmother to being recognised as a finalist in the forthcoming Scottish Care Provider of the Year Awards has been quite a journey. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried and I have hopefully helped hundreds of people remain independent at home for as long as possible.

As Operations Director for both businesses, I feel very responsible for spinning all the plates to make sure everyone receives the first class care we promise them. I also want to ensure that our staff have the opportunity to have a career in care should they wish. I look forward to the future and to working with like-minded individuals and organisations in raising the profile of our sector.

Jane Perry, Operations Director, Bluebird Care Edinburgh and Bluebird Care Glasgow.
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