Case study taken July 2021
How did you get into care and what attracted you to the sector?
I started my career in care when I was 18 and it was my first full time ‘proper’ job. I didn’t finish my A Levels as I left halfway through and didn’t really know what I wanted to do so I took some time out and went travelling. Once I returned, my friend encouraged me to interview for a role in a domiciliary care company. My Grandad at the time had dementia and I was always interested and loved the older generation so decided to give it a go and ended up getting the job!
Can you tell me a bit about your current job and what it involves day to day?
My current role is ‘Field Care Supervisor’ which I started in May this year. Although my role is ‘office-based’ I would say it’s very remote as a lot of the time I go out and do all the assessments for the new clients. A typical assessment starts with me meeting them at the hospital and talking them through how we are going to help them at home. I will then go out and meet them when they are home and assess their home environment and ensure they are set up to receive a high standard of care. This can be small things the family can purchase to make the Care Assistants job easier or big things such as Occupational Therapy and/or correct equipment. Essentially, I make sure there is a smooth transition from hospital to home.
Another element of my job role is creating all the care plans for all the service users and updating them annually to ensure everything is up to date which I can then utilise to spot check all the Care Assistants. All staff get spot checked on a regular basis and that falls under my job role. If I am completely up to date and don’t have a current assessment, then I help answer the phones and deal with any day-to-day issues. We’re quite a small team here so we all help each other out.
What training have you completed in your care career so far?
I started with domiciliary care and then I went on to a dementia unit. After that I worked in a young adults with learning disabilities unit and then back to domiciliary care – so it was quite a broad spectrum!
Along the way I have undertook a lot of training including Walking Alongside Dementia (which I loved), One Chance To Get It Right (which is end of life at a hospice) and Managing Difficult Conversations (such as delivering hard news to families). My other training includes Peg training, feeding and medications, seizures and administering seizure medication, Behaviours of Distress/Concern, Motor Neurons Disease, Learning Disabilities, Infection Control, First Aid and choking as well as the standard Moving and Handling.
I have also completed my QCF Level 2 which I did as an apprenticeship in my previous job and I am 2 weeks away from my completing my Access to Nursing course. I have tried to keep learning to ‘bridge the gap’ as such because I didn’t finish my A levels. To help further I have nearly completed a 3-year Distance Learning Centre course which we study at home and enables me to achieve my A Levels so that I can go on to do a nursing degree.
What other training would you like to do, and do you have a set path of where you want to go now you have done the access to nursing?
I started off as a Care Assistant and I always said I never wanted to leave that post as I absolutely adored it, there was nothing else in the world I wanted to do. It never felt like coming to work! I enjoyed every single day and then I was offered a Senior post with Anchusa which I undertook and progressed to what I do now but for a much smaller team. I was then promoted to Team Leader and then moved up to my current role of Field Care Supervisor. There has been a lot of progressions with Anchusa which has been amazing. However, every step of the way I have kept my hand in care which is something I was so eager to do because I could never do something that was not ‘hands on’.
My plan was always to apply for nursing degree which I can now do, but I love my current job so much and it really suits me for now. I am going to continue in my role for the time being as I only have a few weeks left until I achieve the equivalent of a QCF Level 3 diploma which means I can then progress further. I was speaking with my manager the other day and in years to come if I was to go into Management, I would need my QCF Level 5, so it’s work in progress. I will either use this as a steppingstone to a further qualification or apply for my degree in nursing. I am not quite sure which one yet, but both doors are open!
What Support have you received from you line manager and team? Would you say it is a supportive sector?
Incredible, Anchusa who I work for currently have been key in my career progression. I have only worked for Anchusa for a year and a half, and I have had 4 different job roles, so they really push for you to move forward. I think a lot of the care sector is like that once you enjoy the basic job of being a Care Assistant and the passion is there.
There is always more training you can do, and you never stop doing it! You are constantly learning, and I think that is the beauty of it, that you are never just ‘done’. It can be quite intimidating when you first start out so it’s always nice to know that you have got a managerial team to support you. We shadow out on the field and if someone doesn’t feel like they are confident enough then we will go out and help. I have worked for a few different companies in the sector and have never come across an unsupportive team. It’s the type of sector where everyone is in it together and we all help each other.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I think the main thing I love about working in care in general is that it is so rewarding. I know everyone says that, but it really is. Every day when you walk out of somebody’s house you know you have just made a difference in that person’s day. Whether it’s being the only person they see all day, helping them with their medication, eating, making them comfortable or just being a friend to someone who is lonely, it is you who has made that difference and I just think there is nothing quite like that. What I especially love about domiciliary care is that there are no other distractions, you can be with the person you support in their front room for 10/20 minutes and have that conversation without being pulled away to other things.
I also absolutely adore listening to their stories, they are so interesting, and I could honestly sit and talk to people I care for all day. I really think they are a generation we will sorely miss when they are no longer around because they are just incredible!
There is so much enjoyment, even when it is not necessarily enjoyable. For example, getting someone with dementia dressed who has refused to get changed for 3 days. Not only have they achieved something but so have you. It is not easy, and you do not get challenged like that in a normal, mundane job that is the same all the time. It keeps me interested, and it is a lovely feeling when you enable someone to achieve something.
And what do you find most challenging in your role?
I think the most challenging thing about our role is obviously the demand for us is massive. We are always a high demand sector and that is only going to increase due to the pandemic as well other challenges such as people living longer with more complex needs. However, I think people that fly in care are normally the ones that thrive under that pressure and the ability to be needed. I think the pressure makes people want to do it more.
I do think it’s very emotionally challenging, that is the one thing I find hard. It took me quite a few years when I first started to distance myself from the professional boundary and the fact that you can’t take it home with you. You do, but you must really try to not let it consume you. You are not leaving a pile of paperwork that hasn’t been done, you are leaving a person that hasn’t got anyone else, so I think because you are dealing with people it is a very emotive job.
There are times I have walked into people in pain and suffering or been there when they have passed away. It is a very continuous thing, and this can have an emotional toll on you, but you develop resilience to cope with that.
What hours do you work and how does that fit around your personal life?
My contracted hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. However, we do have an on-call phone that we have for a week at a time once a month. It comes home with us in the evening after work and all weekend. We cover shortfall of sickness mainly, for example this weekend I am working Saturday morning because we are short staffed and then if I am on call and somebody calls off sick it will be my responsibility to cover that shift too.
What would you say to someone considering a career in care?
Just try it. Honestly, I would say give it a go because I have come across so many people that don’t think it is for them and don’t think they can do it and they say to me “I don’t think I am going to be able to do this” with bodily fluids or personal care and within 2 weeks they say “I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner.”
There are so many different areas of care that even if one doesn’t work for you, you still have plenty of options such as homecare, hospital, care homes or learning disabilities. Homecare is a good place to start as you come across many different walks of life and an array of age groups, so you get a variety from the offset.
What do you believe to be the benefits of working in the adult care sector?
Flexible working hours. Obviously, we do have to work some unsociable hours such as weekends but there is a lot of ‘shift swapping’ which means you can get weekdays off.
We also get quite a lot of holidays as we work the weekends and bank holidays. We get 28 days holiday which is a lot but there’s always the opportunity to earn more if you wanted to. We are lucky in the fact that we can just pick up an extra shift if you need some extra money.
Another benefit of working in the sector is the opportunity for career progression along with the ample opportunities you can choose from. If a certain role doesn’t work for you then it is very easy to try something else.
There are so many benefits to working in care including that it’s fun!