With people at heart

For Eleonore Book, caring is more than just a job. It’s a calling, driven by a desire to make life better for others. We met up with Eleonore to talk about life as a professional caregiver – from the daily challenges to the rewarding moments that change lives.

Eleonore Book is a registered nurse from Sweden who has worked within elderly care for almost 20 years.

“For me, it’s all about the contact with people. As a registered nurse, you get to spend time with those you care for. You get to know them and build strong relationships. It has its challenges, but it’s very satisfying being able to make a real difference to someone’s life.” 

Eleonore has worked as a professional caregiver for almost 20 years. Today, she is a registered nurse and specialises in caring for people with dementia. Most of Eleonore’s career has been spent working in nursing homes. As a result, continence care has become a natural part of her working day.

Everyone should take part in life

Even though Eleonore specialises in dementia, she cares for people with different health conditions at different stages of life. So every individual must be talked to, treated and cared for in their own unique way. 

“You need different approaches depending on the individual. For men there is a greater stigma around incontinence; they often don’t accept help as well as women do. Then there’s different health conditions. People who are more cognitively aware can participate in their own care, trying different products over time. People with dementia, however, often forget or don’t understand their needs, so every day can be like starting over.” 

When it comes to continence care, everyone may be different. But for Eleonore there is one thing that every resident needs and deserves – dignity.

Eleonore Book is a registered nurse from Sweden who has worked within elderly care for almost 20 years.

"It is so important to treat people with respect, to try and ‘normalise’ their situation. Everyone should be able to take part in life and incontinence shouldn’t get in the way."


Care with dignity and respect

Making sure residents have the right products is essential for maintaining dignity. And this is one of the first things Eleonore takes care of when a new resident arrives. 

“Often, residents have had incontinence problems before they arrive, but they’ve not had much help or support. So, we get to know their routine, test different products to find the right size and absorption level and then create a care plan. This can be particularly tricky for residents with dementia as they can’t always reliably communicate their needs, so in those cases we use our expertise. Our goal is to help residents go to the toilet themselves for as long as possible. Again, it’s all about dignity and independence.”

Making the most of your time

For Eleonore, one of the major benefits of working in a nursing home is being able to spend time with the people she cares for. Unfortunately, poor continence care routines often steal precious time from professional caregivers. 

“Whether it’s the wrong products or products being changed at the wrong time, poor continence care has consequences, e.g. leakages, pressure ulcers, incontinence-associated dermatitis. It also stops me doing the job I’m trained to do. If I’m constantly changing products or doing laundry, I’m not doing what I want to do most – spend quality time with the residents. So the right training is essential.”

An elderly female resident laughs and smiles. For registered nurse, Eleonore Book, helping residents take part in life is an essential part of the job.

Better care and breaking taboos

With continence care, the right training and the right products are essential. But so is having the right team around you. “Keeping the same team together definitely helps as the staff know the residents’ needs and the residents trust the staff. If the team changes all the time, you lose that.” 

Caregiving is a demanding profession and the pressure can take its toll. This is when having the right team around you can really help. “Too much work is often put on caregivers. This is when people get sick or leave. So it is important to be able to talk about your day with others who understand.” 

During her 20-year career, Eleonore has cared for a lot of people and made a difference to a lot of lives. She has also seen a lot of changes within continence care.

“Twenty years ago, we never had the choice of products that we have today. Having products designed for specific needs has definitely made caring easier.”

 “Twenty years ago, we never had the choice of products that we have today. Having products designed for specific needs has definitely made caring easier.”

“Then there are the digital solutions. Being able to check residents using a smartphone and then knowing when to change will make things easier for everyone. But one of the biggest changes is how continence care is not as shameful as it once was. Slowly, we are breaking taboos.”

Inspiring a new generation

When you listen to Eleonore talk about her career with such enthusiasm, it’s sad to think that one of the biggest challenges facing elderly care today is a serious shortage of professional caregivers. But Eleonore believes that by showing people the real value of continence care, things can improve, and more people will choose caring as a career. Then everyone will feel the rewards. 

“People think all we do is change pads, but there is so much more to it. We are there to improve people’s everyday lives. It’s not just getting the residents dressed or making sure they are at breakfast on time. That is what we have to show people.” 

“I am so proud of the time I have spent within elderly care – everyone should do it. Focusing on someone else’s needs makes you humble and gain respect for life. When I build a relationship that feels natural and equal, where a resident feels listened to and treated with respect, then I know I have done my job and made a difference. That is my reward.”