Health and Wellbeing

Barnstaple couple says domiciliary care workers are as important as the NHS

Posted on: 18 January 2019

A man from Barnstaple who is receiving twice daily visits from domiciliary care workers has met with Barnstaple’s mayor Ian Roome to highlight the difference this care makes to him.

Former electrician Colin Newns is paralysed from the waist down and lives at home with his wife June and dog Rosie. Colin has previously had extensive stays in various hospitals for periods of up to six months, which have been lonely and tiring experiences for both him and his wife.

Staying out of hospital and remaining in his home are really important to Colin, and he credits the team of GPs, district nurses and care workers for making this possible.

Most of Colin’s needs are catered for at home through twice daily visits from care workers employed by Comficare. The care workers help with lifting, washing and dressing, which are tasks that his wife June would have difficulty carrying out.

Colin told mayor Ian Roome that without these daily visits, there would be a significant impact on his health and the health of his wife June. He praised the care workers for their caring nature, technical clinical knowledge and communication skills.

Colin said:

“Care workers are as important to me as all other NHS services. They keep me out of hospital, and I prefer to be at home in my own bed when I’m ill.”

According to June, having the same care workers visit also makes a difference. She said: “Once they get to know us, they build a bond. They are more observant and know when Colin’s having a good day or a bad day.”

Why do people work in care?

In a recent survey of local care workers carried out by Devon Cares, the biggest reason why people work in care is because the work is rewarding. Care workers also recognised that without their input, some people might not speak to another person all day.

Natasha Koerner, head of Devon Cares, said:

“What is clear from our research is that care workers enjoy seeing their work have a clear, immediate benefit to a person. And with growing awareness of the damaging impact of loneliness, it’s not hard to see just how much of a benefit this is to people.

“Our society is starting to recognise the value that these talented individuals bring to our healthcare system and our lives, and I hope every care worker in North Devon knows how important they are.”

Shortage of care workers in northern Devon

Whilst northern Devon has a lot to offer people wanting to work in care, the area is experiencing a shortage of care workers.

Mayor Ian Roome said:

“This year, North Devon, like many parts of the UK, has struggled to recruit and retain enough care workers to help people like Colin remain in their own home. Hospital isn’t where Colin wants to be, not just for his own wellbeing but for the wellbeing of his family too.

“Care workers are highly skilled, empathetic individuals who are as necessary to the healthcare system as our district nurses, GPs and pharmacists, not just for caring for people like Colin, but also helping to manage the pressures on our hospital.”

If anyone is interested in finding out about a career in care, they can get in touch with their local care provider who is part of the Devon Cares framework, or visit the Proud to Care website at

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