After retiring from the police force, I was looking for a part time job that was locally based and would help top up my pension. I’d previously worked for Wiltshire Medical Services so had a good understanding of the role Telecare and its Responder Service, despite have no previous “care” experience at all.
My application was successful and I soon took up my role as a Telecare Mobile Responder. The first few days were based at the office in Chippenham where I got to learn more about Medvivo and Telecare. It wasn’t long before I was out working with another responder doing visits. I was given an induction booklet to fill out based on actual experiences or from questioning other responders so I could learn more about the types of visit I was likely to deal with.
Alongside this, all staff have to undertake a range of e-learning modules (from information governance to manual handling) – some of which is repeated after a few years to ensure our knowledge remains up to date and adheres to latest Government policies. There is also the ’Common Induction Standards’ evidence booklet which provides information and support about dealing with personal care and associated issues.
I was initially based in Crammer Court in Devizes. It was a little awkward at first while we would sit watching staff running round from resident to resident, but we couldn’t help as at any time a call could in and we would need to jump into action.
As stated I had no experience of care, in interview I stated I had changed babies’ nappies and picked up mess after my dogs. I’d cared for friends and family during illness but had no real idea about what would be required in this role. Having to provide personal care to someone you don’t know can initially feel difficult or awkward, but it’s more about the conversation you have with the person rather than the work itself. Once you’ve done it a couple of times you soon realise it’s more about maintaining the patient’s dignity and giving them respect during the process.
I spent 30 years in the police force so dealing with people was not supposed to be an issue, in fact as a responder you only have to deal with people who need your help. Making conversation or small talk while caring for someone was one area I found to be quite a challenge - in the police there was always an agenda or specific purpose behind the conversation. It has got easier, but it can still be a challenge at times.
Although you’re going to work to help people, you don’t quite know what that is going to entail.
Sometimes it may be little more than a cup of tea and a chat, in fact sometimes when you arrive and the person is sleeping you may leave having done nothing at all. However, with every visit you are making a difference to that person’s life, helping and supporting them. In that way it’s a very fulfilling job.
One day I was asked to go and check on a patient who was having a mental health crisis. I’d been to see the lady before but only when she had missed contact calls. When I arrived she was with a neighbour and in a bit of a mess. I stayed with her for some time while we spoke to our out of hours GP service and the social services emergency duty team. It was getting towards the end of my shift but as I had built a rapport with the patient, I was concerned if someone else came to replace me it might upset the current calm situation. So I stayed and took her to the local Out Of Hours’ Doctor Centre where she asked me to accompany her when she was called to see the doctor. When the doctor and patient were both happy I left, although I waited outside until the appointment was over and the crisis resolved so I could take the patient home.
I was so pleased with the doctor that I contacted our team co-ordinator and asked them to pass on my thanks. Later on I found out I had been nominated for Medvivo’s Staff Recognition Award as I had ‘gone the extra mile’ to help this particular patient. I am very proud to have been nominated but recognise that we all went above and beyond the call of duty that night, as can happen on many shifts when you really care about delivering excellent quality of patient care.
After 2½ years as a responder I successfully applied for a Team Lead role. The responder role has changed recently with the introduction of Urgent Care at Home, with far more planned care visits that are intended for people in the most need - people who are just out of hospital, or who need help to stay at home rather than being admitted into hospital. As the team lead I still get to go out and visit people (that’s the best bit) but I hope that I’m helping to shape the new role as we move forward and the responder role becomes even more fulfilling in the future.
Don’t be put off by not having a background in personal care. Whilst it helps, the mobile responder role is more about helping people. You are out there 24/7 helping people through little moments of crisis, but you’re not on your own. There is a whole Medvivo team available to support you. Whether it’s another responder, clinical advice from Access to Care or our Doctors and Nurse Practitioners during the out of hours’ period.
Being a Mobile Responder is about being a part of a big team who are all focused on the single aim of helping people. Anyone who enjoys a challenge, as much mental as physical, and enjoys helping people will enjoy being a responder.
About John Lawton
After 30 years in the police force, John joined Medivo back in 2011 when it was known as Wiltshire Medical Services. He worked as a co-ordinator in the Single Point of Access team and the Out of Hours call centre prior to the introduction of NHS111. John now leads a team of Mobile Responders from the Chippenham office and is great at inducting new members of staff into the Telecare team.
John is an avid fundraiser for charities and has taken part in a Santa Dash, the Bristol - Bath marathon, the National and Yorkshire Three Peak Challenges and the Canadian Canoed the Caledonian Canal, to name but a few of his recent exploits!
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