For older people living alone, the service provides a vital lifeline for concerned family members. The level of attention to detail and compassion towards vulnerable service users was regarded as unique aspect of the service. It can provide vital support to people with high care needs that would otherwise be solely reliant on family members or next of kin to provide.
“The service has been very good. It comes three times a day which is what I needed. I’m a male looking after a female so it’s essential that someone comes into to change her and whatever. I’m delighted with the care that they give, they’re very good. They are very precise with her, she loves them and they love her and that’s the main thing.” P. Breen
“They give you all the information available that they have about the service they provide and how you might want to use it. They don’t tell you what to do. They just advise, if you want to do it, it’s up to you then as to how it suits your family.” L. Finn
“ Michelle ( carer) bless her heart would always inform me, she’d say over the phone “I think he sounds a bit wheezy in his chest” so she had that rapport and that relationship with him… things like that are a life saver for us because all our family are in the U.K.”
Support for Families
In terms of home care, the population in need of assistance in Ballymun tended to be younger than those in other areas due to the demographics in the area. When BHSS was first established there was a larger proportion of younger families due to the small numbers of older people living in the community at the time. As the areas has developed there has been a shift towards a greater proportion of older people receiving home care.
“Our main focus was as an order dealing with families. That’s why when we came to Ballymun here, there was a lot of young families. You had to have three children to get into a flat into Ballymun at the time. There was all these families and there was no services for them. There was no playground and there was no play groups. It was open plan so if you were on the 15th or 13th floor you would have to come down to let your kids out. There was nothing.”
“In the late 70’s early 80’s, when there was really a recession at that stage in the country and there would have been families that would go without food for the two days coming up to pay day… as the money came in, they went for the fast food type of thing, and Lena tried to turn that on its head and get people to be more proactive with their money.”
Support for Carers
When the service first started care was arranged face-to-face either by carers calling into the office or by service organisers calling into the carers’ home. To prevent carers feeling isolated in their role a carer support groups were put in place and offered home helps a chance to air any grievances or discuss any challenges amongst their peers and management. The benefit of working for BHSS included a large client base within the Ballymun community meaning that assistance from the office was never too far away. Accessibility and reactive responses to emergencies or concerns help to resolve issues as they arise.
“…groups where they would talk about how they were getting on in their job. That to me was critical in terms of development, you were helping people to be the best they could be at their job with peer supervision. We were strict at telling people “You are not to be talking to anybody else, this is a confidential service”. There was a place if you were totally frustrated with somebody you can bring it.”
“I’ve had people on the floor. I’d ring the office, I’d have to ring an ambulance, get them off the floor. If the person is hurt first thing I would do is ring an ambulance. If the person is not hurt I’d ring the office. When you are working in Ballymun you are only a couple of minutes from the office.”