The Voice of… The Housekeeping Team in a Care Home

At Meaningful Care Matters, we believe that all care workers, regardless of title, are important and have a valuable role to play in forming meaningful connections.

From the manager of the care home, to the gardener tending the roses outside, each person provides care to those living within the home. We want to show you the value of each and every role, giving everyone a voice and a platform to share their input.

So, let’s start with the housekeeping team, who play a vital role in ensuring hygiene standards are maintained throughout the home. However, their value doesn’t end there. Let’s explore just how vital the role of the cleaning team is for creating a meaningful care culture.

We caught up with our friends at Cleeve Court Residential Care Home in Bath to share their story. Zena, one of the housekeepers at Cleeve Court, and our team had a catch up to find out more about her role at the care home, beyond the all-important cleaning duties.

MCM: Zena, it’s lovely to chat to you. Can you share with us a little bit about yourself?

Zena: It’s great to chat! Of course. I live in the centre of town with my partner, Nick and come October, I’ll have been at Cleeve Court for 5 years.  Our house is about a 45 minute walk from the home, so I’ll head in on foot on the sunnier days, and in winter, or “British summer”, I’ll hop on the bus, which only takes 15 minutes to get to the home. 

Before I started working as a housekeeper within care homes, I was working in a sports pub kitchen. But it was really quite tiring and I didn’t enjoy it. So, I visited my job centre one day to look at other options, and left with a flyer about joining the housekeeping team at Cleeve Court. And I am SO glad that I did. Although the physicalities of cleaning are pretty much the same, there is so much more to my job at Cleeve Court. And, most days, it doesn’t really feel like a job at all.

I’m very lucky to have an incredibly supportive partner. Nick was an IT manager at the nearby university.  Now though, he’s retired and  does all the cleaning at home, meaning after a long day at work, I can come home to a nice clean house! He is truly incredible, not only does he make sure our home is ship-shape, he also does all the cooking, and even makes his own bread! There’s nothing quite like walking into your home to the smell of freshly laundered clothes and bread straight from the oven…

MCM: That sounds like a wonderful life, Zena! Thank you for sharing. Nick sounds incredible! What is a typical (working) day like for you?

Zena: Well, my day starts reasonably early at 6.30am when my alarm clock goes off. I then get ready and head in for around 8am when I start work. My first morning job is to do the rounds and check in on everyone, making sure they’re all happy and have a nice fresh drink of water or juice.

This is my favourite part of the day.

When I go in, most people always have a beaming smile on their faces, and I on mine. It’s just lovely. Not like going to work at all, it feels more like seeing a friend again.

After the initial ‘drinks round’, it’s time to start cleaning and tidying up the bedrooms. I usually spend a fair amount of time doing this bit, as it’s a lovely chance to catch up with all those living at the home. And, I have formed some really lovely friendships so it’s especially important to both me and them that I spend some time with them in the morning. Making sure hygiene levels are up to standards is important of course, but so is checking on the individual and making sure they are okay too. Whilst I’m cleaning, we’ll chat about their families, they’ll ask about mine, we really know each other very well. Sometimes, we’ll listen to the radio together and even have a dance around the room while we clean!

It can, of course, be challenging living in a care home, and feeling like you have less control of your own environment. So, a few people like to ‘help out’ with the cleaning duties, so I’ll pass them a duster and some polish and they’ll do some of these tasks alongside me. I really think they enjoy this a lot, as it feels for them less like I am there to provide a service, and more like two friends just having a natter, and pottering around.

There are a few who maybe don’t feel like chatting, so being able to read the room and respect their wants/needs is important. If they prefer to keep themselves to themselves, I’ll make sure I tend to their room when they are either having breakfast in the lounge, or out for a hair appointment etc. Likewise if someone is resting or sleeping, I wouldn’t want to come in and disturb them, so I’ll check back in at a more convenient time. It’s all about having respect and an understanding of each individual.

Usually, I’ll finish my cleaning around 3/4pm, but sometimes it’s a little later, depending on what duties needed to be carried out and how everyone is feeling that day. Luckily I am able to be quite flexible, and the Cleeve Court team are incredibly accommodating with this too.

After that, I head home to my wonderful home with Nick.

MCM: What a wonderful day, Zena. What is the team at Cleeve Court like?

Zena: It really is! Each day is a joy, and every one is different. As I said, it’s much like visiting a few friends each day and having a natter and a potter around!

The team at Cleeve Court is wonderful. Truly wonderful. And this is what makes my job even more special. Alongside the friends I’ve made who live at the home, I’ve made some beautiful friendships within the team too. Regardless of whether you are a resident, a manager, or a housekeeper. Where roles and responsibilities have been of a real hierarchy in other places I have worked, titles like that don’t really matter at Cleeve Court. Really, you could say we’re all one big family.

The housekeeping team specifically is made up of 6 members, and we work across the 3 floors of the home. I couldn’t say how many were in the team overall, as I think there are a few of us, but we’re all quite close-knit and everyone is lovely to work with. There must be over 70 who work here, and we have over 45 individuals in our care.

MCM: What is the most rewarding part of your day?

Zena: I don’t think I could pinpoint one specific moment as the most rewarding, although as I said earlier, seeing everyone first thing in the morning is certainly my favourite.

Different parts of the day have different rewards though. From the feel-good smiles on arrival, to the chats throughout the day, it’s all a joy to be part of. And if I can bring some happiness to those living at Cleeve Court, then that’s what it’s all about.

Another hugely rewarding part is lunch time. And not because it’s an opportunity to sit down and have a break from work away from others, quite the opposite! For lunch, I’ll normally join those who live at Cleeve Court in the dining room and enjoy lunch alongside them. This is such a lovely time, and the food is delicious too. It’s a really nice moment to just chat. Enjoying food together, like a daily, sharing stories and just being part of each others’ days is really special.

MCM: Thank you so much for such an incredible insight into your day, Zena! It’s been wonderful to learn a little more about the role of a member of the housekeeping team at Cleeve Court.

The team at Cleeve Court and our consultants at Meaningful Care Matters worked together to create an environment that puts the individual at the centre of their care. Through creating seamless connections between those living at the home, and those providing care, and moving away from ‘institutional’ structures, a community was created with care right at the core.

We hope you enjoyed reading about the role of the housekeeping team within a care setting. If you’d like to learn a little more about what we do, drop us a line here.

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