WHEN many people think of care, they probably think of providing aid for basic needs, such as helping someone with bathing, helping them to get them up and dressed in the morning and preparing meals.

Healthcare assistants at Westmorland Homecare do all of those things, of course, during their regular visits to our elderly and vulnerable clients.

But caring in its deeper sense means more than just carrying out these kinds of tasks.

It is about seeing each person as an individual and respecting their personal wishes.

That involves getting to know each client as much as they are prepared to let us do so – their likes, their dislikes, the way they prefer to be addressed, the tone we adopt when we speak to them and so on.

Sometimes clients will like visitors to be bright and breezy. At other times they might prefer a more restrained and quieter approach.

For example, most people think of anniversaries such as birthdays in a positive way, as something to celebrate.

But for some older people they might be sad reminders that people they used to know and love are no longer around or cannot visit them, perhaps because they, too, are not as mobile as they used to be.

Everyone who helps care for others has to be mindful of that person’s mood and be ready to respond accordingly.

We need to be mindful that we work in their home, but they must never consider themselves as living in our workplace.

At times the people we care for might just want to chat, although we should not assume they always want to think about the past.

Nostalgia does not appeal to everyone – some people would much rather talk about the here and now, or the future.

If the client does not want to talk and has no immediate needs then we should look around and see if there are any useful tasks we could do – with their permission - to potentially make their life easier.

Finally, we need to recognise a client’s baseline so we can spot any changes that might merit attention.

That all comes about by getting to know someone – the crucial element of caring.