Footballer grandfather’s illness led Sharon into a caring career

Sharon Moss readily admits few young people will have an ambition to become a care home manager when they start to consider careers at school.

She found herself working in the sector as a result of her family being touched by Alzheimer’s disease, but has discovered a satisfying and productive career in North Yorkshire along the way.

Sharon’s close bond with her grandfather – Middlesbrough and England football legend George Hardwick – was the starting point for a career that has seen her rise within the County Council workforce to become a care home manager. She considers it a privilege to work with some of the county’s elderly residents.

The roots of her career can be traced to early childhood, when she was in awe of her grandfather’s giant-like sporting physique, which he retained despite retiring from sport to run a car dealership.

His physical strength was a contrast to his softly spoken demeanour, earning him the Gentleman George nickname and his natural interest in his grandchildren’s progress mean their bond was strong.

But after leaving home to work at a race-horse stables in Malton, Sharon’s close contact with her grandfather was broken for some time until she returned to her family in Scarborough and found George, who she knew had been ill, to be a shadow of his former self.

She remembers the shock of realising the effects of the illness: “I remember my mum saying grandad was coming over and I made sure I was there.

“In walked a man who was not a giant but a shrunken version of my grandfather. I was so shocked I think my jaw hit the ground; he was a shell of the man I remembered.

“I knew he had been unwell and it turned out to be Alzheimer’s. I had never heard of Alzheimer’s before.”

By that time Sharon was working in domiciliary care and embarked on a path to learn more about the disease, a route which took her into the adult social care sector and a career with the County Council, which has blossomed ever since.

“I studied, did dementia training courses and became senior team leader in a dementia unit,” she said.

Although Alzheimer’s eventually claimed Sharon’s grandad, it did not take his dignity and she remembers attending a social function with him alongside more recent stars of the game, like David Beckham.

When his funeral took place, the streets were lined with admirers wanting to pay respects and the service was attended by stars of the sport.

By this time, Sharon was established in her profession and career moves took her to Benkhill Lodge at Bedale. When the existing manager moved on she applied for the job, despite the position being a large career leap. She was given a six months secondment to the role, but after four was told the position had been made permanent.

“When you are at school you don’t often think you want to be the manager in a care home,” she said. “It is often the circumstances of events that mean you end up working in care.”

Sharon believes more young people should be made aware of how fulfilling and exciting a career in care can be.

“As soon as I started working in adult social care, I knew it was the career for me,” she said. “I have a respect for the elderly and want to sit down and talk to them. I didn’t think I would work my way up to become a manager.

“I absolutely love coming to work every day. Even in the pandemic, I feel privileged that I can come to work every morning.”

The great thing about a career as a social care professional, according to Sharon, is that doors frequently open to new opportunities in the sector. Her experience of working for North Yorkshire County Council, she said, is that there is always support and encouragement and training for those who want new challenges and to advance their careers and develop. 

Make Care Matter

For those who want to make all the difference to people’s lives, North Yorkshire County Council is appealing to people to join the county’s care and support workforce as part of its Make Care Matter campaign.

The Make Care Matter Recruitment Hub is an award-winning service, currently working with more than 400 care providers countywide to fill their care worker recruitment needs. Since this unique service launched, it has recruited more than 700 candidates into care roles across the county. It aligns candidates to the roles that best suit them, offering support and guidance to both providers and candidates throughout the process.

People are needed to work in social care more than ever during this critical period of the coronavirus pandemic and the logistical and humanitarian challenge of caring for older people and others in need of help and support.

The council works with adults of all ages from 18 upwards who may be frail or have multiple health conditions; people with learning and physical disabilities; and people with mental health issues, including dementia. It also works to support family carers.

“As Sharon Moss shows us, social care can provide a rewarding career with many opportunities for development and pathways right to the top of the profession,” said County Councillor Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Adult Services and Health Integration.

“There are many ways in which people can work and there is no requirement for specific experience or expertise in social care to help. Full training and support will be provided. If you are caring and compassionate and willing to get stuck in, we will have a role for you. Contact us now, because your support is critical.

“If your current employment has taken a downturn or you have finished further education or are thinking of a career after school, please apply.”

Register your interest and apply.