How did you get into care and what attracted you to the sector?
I was previously a rugby coach and one evening we held a session for children with disabilities and/or learning disabilities. As I was coaching them a person who worked for Mencap praised how good I was with the kids and said that I was a natural. With that in mind, I started thinking about my career, as my occupation at the time (painter/decorator) had been hit quite hard by the recession.
I started looking through care home companies and Abbotts Care came straight to my mind because I knew they were a family-run company. At the time they weren’t very big (around 60 carers), but now they have got 800 so it’s really grown over the past few years! Although I took a drop in money to start, everything has worked out great. The team at Abbotts Care are very good and caring and they took me through a lot of training. I started off with caring for children with behaviours of distress which became a bit of speciality, and then I went into caring in a home of mainly teenage boys which I absolutely loved.
Can you tell me a bit about your current job and what it involves day to day?
I have about 6/7 people I support on a day-to-day basis. I normally start work at around 7.30 am and finish about 7 pm depending on what jobs I need to do. The teenage boys I support have different requirements based on their disabilities which include Huntington’s disease, challenging behaviour, blindness, and some are autistic. I have one boy who cannot walk and is blind. I deal with him every night and despite his disabilities, I’m still able to interact with him and make him laugh.
Generally, a visit lasts around 2 -3 hours and then you move on to your next one. Quite often the people I support have a low life expectancy. However, I had one boy whose life expectancy was only 21 but he lived until he was 28 and we believe this was down to good care.
What training have you received so far in your care career?
Oh, everything! Epilepsy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Manual Handling, Medication, First Aid… everything you can think of really to be able to provide high-quality care.
I have also taken my diploma in Health and Social Care and completed level 1, 2 and 3 in Medication along with a BTEC in care when I first started.
One thing I will say about Abbotts Care is that the training is second to none. I have learnt so many skills since I have been with them. I came in not knowing a thing, but years on nothing really phases me as I know I can always get the support I need.
What sort of support did you receive from your line manager and team at the beginning of your career? And, when you enter a new setting what kind of support do you get?
The support is absolutely fantastic. When you start you go shadowing once or twice a week. They then ring you up after you have done your job and ask if everything is ok and whether you’re confident and happy doing the role. They followed up all the time which really put me at ease. After a few weeks, a supervisor will come out with you on some of your shifts just to make sure that you’re doing everything correctly and feel confident doing it. Once this has been done you get an evaluation where they tell you what they think, so the support is there all the time. That is one thing I love about Abbots Care; the support is fantastic. If you’re not happy with something there’s always someone there to listen.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
My enjoyment is the interaction with the people I support. I am a bit of a bubbly chap anyway, so I tend to find out beforehand what they like and then I interact with them straight away and we get on great. To me it is not a job for money, it is a job for enjoyment and on their side as well, you know you have got to just keep them happy really. To me it’s a great job.
What do you find most challenging about your role?
I have worked with a few people who expressed behaviours of distress and understandably that can be a challenge. However, after working with them for a few months you can sense when something is going to happen which makes it easier to prepare for. There are certain things that they will do before, you have got to be ready for it which can be a bit of a challenge. Usually, there is an additional Care Assistant with you when you are supporting a person that can be particularly challenging for you.
The other thing that can be challenging is the work hours can be long, depending on how many people you support, but you get used to it and will always have hours off in the day.
What hours do you do and how does it fit around your personal life?
During the pandemic, I worked some long hours as I felt obliged to the parents of the people I was supporting to have someone they knew and trusted. However, now I try and keep to around 40-45 hours per week. Occasionally I may take on extra shifts if a Care Assistant needs help on a complicated call. It has always been full time and I find it hard to say no to be honest!
In your day-to-day role how do you enable clients to live as independently as possible?
I try and give them as much freedom as I can. For example, the other day one of the boys I care for who has Multiple Sclerosis had a parcel delivered and he has a stick to pick it up with. Usually, people will just pick the parcel up for him, but I encouraged him to keep trying so he could do it himself and after about 10 minutes he managed it. That was great to see because he was so made up that he could do it for himself. There are certain things the people I support cannot do but quite often they just need a little bit of encouragement.
What would you say to someone who is considering a career in care that may have not worked in a care setting before?
I’ve introduced a few people into the sector including my son who worked for Abbots for about 2 years! I always say to people just try it. However, I think it’s important that you pick the right firm, don’t rush into it, don’t take too much on and just introduce yourself slowly – everything else will come in time.
Would you like to progress within your career or are you happy where you are now and if you do want to progress where would you be looking to go next or what qualification are you looking for?
I am thinking about taking my Level 3 in Health and Social Care. Abbots have asked me a few times to be a Senior Care Assistant which I will consider becoming in the future. The people I support currently are my priority I have been working with them for years and I think they would be very unsettled and upset if I were to leave.