I have sat here for a while and wondered how I should best start this – my first blog with Sutherland Home Care – affectionately known as SHC. In fact, it is my first blog ever! I guess I should start by introducing myself! I am Krystle and I have recently been appointed the Senior Care Manager for Sutherland Homecare. I have 20 years-experience within the health and social care industry in various levels and positions. This has been within the charity sector as well as various NHS boards. I am originally from the south east of England and have been living in Glasgow for the past 13 years and finally made it to the Highlands in January of this year.
We have also appointed a new project lead – Kareen McConnach who has extensive local knowledge and a great deal of experience through Connecting Communities, which will be invaluable for me! We are both so excited and motivated for SHC to be fully launched!
We are working hard behind the scenes with some wonderful people helping us; Ann Pascoe, Mary-Anne Ross, Sarah Kerr and the many others who keep the cogs turning.
Caring for others is all I have ever known in my work life. I did have a brief paper round and worked in a beach café in my younger years however from the age of 16 – care has been it. I also have experience on a personal level. Whenever someone was sick or receiving end of life care, my phone rang. As the eldest daughter/granddaughter (especially one who worked in the care industry!) it was almost what you could call ‘your duty’.
I briefly moved ‘home’ to Kent at the very start of the pandemic to look after my 96-year-old nan. She had dementia but she was able to live independently in her own home with the help from various family members. Unfortunately, though she had a fall, and it accelerated her symptoms, and it came to a point where they were unable to provide the level of care that she needed; mainly because it involved a lot of personal care and my dad and uncle are both retired and it’s hard for a son to have to provide that more intimate care for their mum. I remember when I was little and my nan made me promise ‘don’t let the boys put me in a home, you have to look after me’. So, I kept that promise.
It was a very emotional time for me, it was a 24/7 job which as many of you know, it can be mentally and physically draining. I think I went 6 days at one point with little to no sleep and I eventually admitted defeat (which now I know wasn’t the case) and asked for help. A wonderful local caring charity sent me a carer to stay with my nan overnight so that I could get some well needed sleep. But can you guess what? I didn’t sleep a wink! I lay there wracked with guilt that a stranger was downstairs with my nan – what if she didn’t look after her the way I looked after her? I went downstairs in the morning and my nan was so peaceful. The place was tidy, and she was content. The carer was lovely, and you could see why she had been employed to do that job – she genuinely cared.
Later that day I remember sitting with my nan and she said her goodbyes to me – she knew that her journey was coming to an end. It was a beautiful day; sky was blue, and the sun was shining. I positioned her bed so that she could see the garden which she loved; you were lucky if she let you walk on her immaculately kept lawn! That night, she passed away whilst holding my hand. I learnt a lot about myself during this time and it made me question everything. This is what it is like for the family members of people who are sick or living with long complex conditions; having a stranger come into your home to look after someone who is so precious to you. This is why I always have treated my patients/service users how I would want my loved ones to be treated. And this is what I believe to be at the heart of SHC – a wonderful team of support workers who will and do have the same outlook on caring.
We cannot wait to share some more updates with you as we move further along with our SHC journey!
I shall leave you with one of my favourite quotes which I believe will resonate with many of the wonderful people who care for others, whether it be for a family member or for work.
“We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give…”
Krystle McCartney – Senior Care Manager