How to spot a great carer - and how to be one

Olga Mcrae, who has been nominated for the Great British Care Awards, is a good example, says her manager Danielle Daines.

“Olga looks after every one of her clients as if they are a relative,” says Danielle.

Olga says: “I enjoy communicating with my clients. I smile and they smile back, and I give them time to talk. It's important to be a good listener - like a friend. I want to improve and maintain their mood and health, so I try to be a ray of sunshine for them.”

Olga has been a home carer with Avant Healthcare in Hounslow for five years. Danielle says: “We train all our carers to be compassionate and uphold the dignity of clients, but Olga goes the extra mile.”

For instance:

  • Supporting Patricia, who had dementia, by buying her a concessionary travel pass from her own money so that Patricia could get out of the house, and taking her for coffee and a chat at a local cafe. Olga sometimes took Patricia to a local river to feed the fish, and when Patricia was admitted to hospital Olga continued to feed her cat unpaid.

  • Encouraging James, 97, to do his exercises and to read a book to keep his mind active, and asking his daughter to bring him more books once one is finished.

  • Doing colouring, crosswords and card games with Catherine, who has dementia.

Olga says: “I love my job. I wish I'd thought about becoming a carer earlier.”

Danielle, 24, says: “Many people of my age think care is a dreary job but every day is different, it's very rewarding and there are a lot of laughs. It suits people of all ages - Olga is over 60 but our care team also includes under-25s.”

Avant Healthcare founder Sally Graham says: “We demonstrate how much we value our staff by offering a wide range of benefits, such as flexible working, training (including management training), funding for Diplomas in Health and Social Care, study leave, childcare vouchers, and more.”