Quite often, it is the little things that make the biggest difference. While having a care worker move into your house may be a big thing, it is the small, intimate details which make live-in care services unique. This is certainly true for Jeff, who is supported by care worker, Marcell.
Jeff was 91 in October. In March last year, he and his wife, Elaine, were joined by Marcell; a live-in care worker from Germany.
Marcell discovered a career with Agincare while living in Spain with his wife. He has been working in care since the age of 19, some 35 years ago, but an Agincare advert for something new sparked his curiosity. 24-hour live-in care services was not a type of care in Germany, nor in Spain, but Marcell loved the more intimate service it provided.
As a result of the Spanish economic crisis, which remains ongoing, Marcell moved to the UK to pursue a career in live-in care services while his wife stayed behind in Spain.
By accumulating holiday, he spends two months each year back at their family home. It was during a two month break in March this year that he received the tragic news of Elaine’s passing.
It is one of those dates you just don’t forget.
Elaine died suddenly within just 2 days of falling ill. She had been married to Jeff for 53 years and the grieving process would take its toll on her widower.
Marcell, who is 54, described his inability to comprehend what it must be like to lose someone you have spent so long with. “They had been married for 53 years. That’s almost my whole life. And then there was the time before they were married.”
Elaine’s passing would also have a lasting effect on Marcell who, though primarily supporting Jeff, had also assisted her daily during the final year of her life.
However, by being there 24-hours a day, and part of that grieving process, Marcell has been able to support Jeff in a way he couldn’t otherwise. He explains that,
Having known Elaine, we grieve together. We sit and talk. I knew her and am involved in some of the stories. Sometime we sit and reflect on what Elaine used to say.
As Jeff went through the stages of grieving, Marcell was there to help him express his emotions and to reflect on those happy memories of Elaine.
This is just one of the great advantages of live-in care. The one to one, 24-hour assistance allows for a close bond to form between care worker and client and ensures stable, consistent support. Marcell highlights this as the primary reason behind his love for live-in care services.
24/7 care is very special. I worked a lot in care and learnt a lot of different skills and now I get to devote all that to one person.
The constant presence allows for the care worker to gain a deeper understanding of their clients; what they like and dislike. In turn, this can help them to discover those small gestures which make a big difference.
For Jeff, it would be the small act of sharing zebra pancakes that would form the beginnings of acceptance and pave the way for welcoming joy back into his life. When sharing this story with us, Marcell wrote:
Like all of us, Jeff was just having a bad day and didn’t look forward to anything, and didn’t want to eat anything. To cheer up Jeff and make him happy, I made zebra pancakes.
I served Jeff the zebra pancakes and he had completely forgotten his bad mood and we both ate together with great joy.
We have a saying in German: “Das Auge isst mit”. In English: “Eat with your eyes”. That means that you lovingly present and garnish the food you cook.
While lovingly presented, it was the love with which they were made that had the greatest impact.
Through the close bond that Jeff has formed with his live-in care worker, he is gradually coming to accept the loss of his wife. After months of grief, Marcell explains that
Jeff is very relaxed now. Joy is coming back and he is getting to a better place.
As a 24-hour live-in carer, Marcell has been able to be there for Jeff when it mattered most. To care for someone is as much about the emotional support as it is helping them to move around or take their medication.
The 24 hour, one to one support allows for the formation of bonds and friendship. What’s more, it gives people someone to share experiences with, both good and bad.
Today, Marcell and Jeff share an equal portion of both. Sometimes it is grief, but the small acts such as making pancakes, are just as powerful. What’s more, the face it all together. Marcell describes how,
Sometimes we talk, sometimes we don’t. I knew Elaine too, so we experience that grief together. That’s important. To not go through it alone.
No one should face life’s challenges alone and with 24-hour live-in care, they don’t have to.