Case study taken July 2021
What attracted you to the care sector?
I was studying Health and Social Care at school but didn’t really know what I wanted to do. When I went to college to do a Higher National Certificate, I bumped into an old school friend who was doing the same course and suggested I look for work in care. I wasn’t sure if I could as I didn’t have any qualifications or experience, but she assured me this wasn’t necessary, and they would give me any support or training that I needed. Since then, I haven’t looked back! I have been with Mencap for 6 years now in various roles and now I am a student nurse while working as a Support Worker.
Tell me a bit about your current job and what it involves
I work in the community and assist the individual with whatever they want to do on that day, with the overall aim of making them happy. This can be activities such as going bowling, to the cinema, theatre, and dance classes, or just giving them some company and help with their shopping. I let them take the lead and we go anywhere and everywhere!
What training have you completed in your career so far? What other training would you like to do?
Although I had started my HNC in Health and Social Care I stopped doing the course to work full time as I loved working there so much. They supported me with 3 weeks training to get my Level 1 Healthcare certificate which covered all sorts of things such as moving and handling, learning disabilities, health and safety and dementia care. Each year my training is updated.
What support have you received from your line manager and the team you work with?
If it wasn’t for my original line manager, I don’t think I would now be a student nurse. She is a learning disability nurse, and we would often have regular supervisions and discuss any issues or concerns as well as reviewing my development. We started to talk about me becoming a nurse and she really supported this. Throughout the whole application process, she was there to make sure I knew my worth and built up my confidence. The whole team are very supportive.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There are so many things – working in the community means you are not confined to one space and every day is different. With regards to the individuals I support, it’s simple – helping someone and making them happy.
One of the people I help support loves wolves and I was able to take him somewhere locally on a walk where he could see some and it had such an impact on him. He couldn’t stop talking about it being the best day ever – just knowing I’m making a difference is all I need.
What do you find the most challenging part of your job?
That is hard to answer. There are times when it can be unpredictable, the people we support have learning disabilities and mental health so this can be difficult to manage if you are not prepared. In this sector it is important to be positive although there are times when being critical can also be a good thing, otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to make changes.
In terms of the actual role, I am struggling to think of something. Its about turning a negative into a positive to help you deal with it in the future. We work in an environment which is unpredictable, so you just have to roll with the punches and go with it!
What are your hours of work and how does this fit around your personal life?
I am currently studying and my employer have been brilliant with supporting this. I have joined their agency so I pick up shifts when I can around my studying. The nature of the work means you can be very flexible about the hours that you want to work and fit them into your own circumstances. It isn’t a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 job, but my manager is very good at ensuring that the shifts work out fairly.
In your day-to-day role, how do you enable clients to live as independently as possible?
Being an advocate is really important to me, some individuals are vulnerable, and it is essential for them to have someone who can speak for them and ensure their care is centred around them. I try to keep it as simple as possible and just ask them what they want to do and give them a choice, but not a too open question as this can make them feel anxious. I regularly check that they are happy with what they are doing in case they may have changed their mind and that their needs are being met.
What would you say to someone considering a career in care who may have hesitations?
The element of personal care did scare me a bit as its invasive. There are so many resources online that you can research to help you understand it more. At the interview stage, ensure you make this clear and ask if there is extra training or if you can shadow someone so that you can familiarise yourself before you start working on your own and feel comfortable doing it. The main priority is the person receiving the care as no one wants to receive it and we would all like to be able to do it ourselves. I consider it a privilege to look after someone and if you are working for an organisation that cares about their staff, they will offer whatever support you need.
Would you like to progress in your career and if so, what would you like to do next?
Going into Health and Social care there are so many options available. When I have finished my studies, I have a good job lined up in forensic nursing. The nurse I am currently shadowing is the Deputy Director of Nursing at the trust I will be working for, and she started out as a health care assistant – so you really can go all the way to the top!