Campaign hits the road to make care matter

The Make Care Matter campaign is taking to the road to promote care as a career “a million miles” from what you imagined doing where you can “really make a difference”.

Liam with a client

North Yorkshire County Council and care providers are hitting the road to invite the public to sit down and talk about care, why it matters and how they can get on board in the care profession.

All sorts of people work in care in North Yorkshire, from builders to accountants, young graduates to parents or partners wanting flexible but rewarding work to fit their life.

But now North Yorkshire needs more care workers than ever before to support the county’s growing number of older and vulnerable people in leading healthy and independent lives in the heart of their communities. The number of older people is growing and it is predicted that people living with dementia will increase by 20 per cent by 2020.

“There has never been a better time to consider a career in care,” said County Councillor Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration. “The opportunities for career development are greater than ever. Our care and support workers are the best to tell people about how rewarding a career in care can be, so we will be out in force on our roadshows to spread the good news about our fantastic team, about why we are extremely proud of our work and why we want people to join us in this vital service.

“Caring is far more than just a job. Helping people, often with fascinating life stories, to live independently and with dignity is an important and fulfilling profession and is a crucial service in this county.”

The County Council hopes to attract more young people, and is appealing to men as well as women to consider the profession, particularly as men are living longer.

Liam Fletcher, 26, has worked in adult social care for two years after a period in music college. Job satisfaction is huge, he says, no two days are the same and opportunities for career progression are second to none.

“Going back five years, the role I have now is a million miles away from what I saw myself doing,” says Liam. “At the time I was studying music at college and couldn’t understand why a few of my friends chose to work in care. It wasn’t something I ever thought I would be capable of doing, but it turns out I’m actually pretty good at it!

“In my two years of working within adult social care I haven’t stopped laughing and I am learning something new every single day. This job is different to all of my other jobs. It doesn’t feel like the daily grind and I’m not just repeating the day before – I really am making a difference.”

Make Care Matter roadshows are being staged across the county.

Care professionals will be on hand to talk to people, from those involved in providing domiciliary care to those working in Extra Care (where people live independently in their own homes in the heart of communities but with care as needed) to those in the reablement team, which offers intensive support to get people leaving hospital back on their feet.

Sophie MacCormack, of Wellburn Care Homes, said: “There’s no better time to pursue a career in care. To be a carer isn’t just about what you do it’s about how you do it and how what you do can make such a difference to residents with dementia and their family and friends. When working in a care home, you’re working in the residents’ home and you’re being invited in to help and support people who need it most and it is demanding, we won’t lie about that, but what it gives in return is so rewarding.”

Cllr Harrison added: “Being a care professional is about building relationships and helping people achieve often simple, daily tasks which they are no longer able to complete by themselves.

“Through passion and commitment, our teams help people to see what’s possible and support them to achieve things they thought were impossible.”

Make Care Matter roadshows:

  • Coventry University careers event, Scarborough: Tuesday, 10 October
  • Roadshow in the Dales: September/October
  • Event at Catterick Garrison: October/November

For more information about the Make Care Matter campaign, go to www.makecarematter.co.uk.

Case studies

Below is a selection of stories from care workers based around North Yorkshire.

Liam, a care and support worker in a residential home in the Bedale area

Twenty-six-year-old Liam is ambitious and already has eyes on a top job in care. Prior to joining North Yorkshire County Council, Liam worked for a care agency.

He said: “Going back five years, the role I have now is a million miles away from what I saw myself doing. At the time I was studying music at college and couldn’t understand why a few of my friends chose to work in care. It wasn’t something I ever thought I would be capable of doing, but it turns out I’m actually pretty good at it!

“I’ve done jobs in factories, catering and estate agents but never enjoyed them much. Then when I moved from Lancashire to North Yorkshire it was hard to find a job and working in care was recommended to me by a friend. Now I love what I do.

“I’ve done loads of training, from mandatory courses to learning for my own personal development and all while I’m working, so I still get paid.

“No two days are the same. There’s always something going on, always something new to learn and memories to make. The people I help to care for, they’ve had really interesting lives and you don’t meet people like that every day. They don’t live where I work; I work where they live.

“In my two years of working within adult social care I haven’t stopped laughing and I am learning something new every single day.

“This job is different to all of my other jobs. It doesn’t feel like the daily grind and I ‘m not just repeating the day before – I really am making a difference.”

“In the home where I work there used to be more female residents than male. Now, it’s quite the opposite. More and more men are needing care and as people are living longer this will only increase. I would encourage more men to consider a career in care. They’ll probably surprise themselves, just like I did.

“Give it a go! It isn’t what people think it is, it’s not just personal care, in fact that is probably the smallest part of the role. Often male residents have different experiences, hobbies and interests to female residents, but they all love to interact with one another and enjoy real community spirit.

“My friends have chosen various careers, such as building work and mechanics, and so far I’m the only one to choose adult social care.

“Maybe public perceptions put men off. It is seen as a female career and there is definitely a stigma attached. The way I see it is I could be a builder like some of my friends but it takes months to build a house and to finally complete a project. In my job, it’s like completing a project every 30 seconds – I get immediate job satisfaction and don’t have to wait for it.”

Bobby, a newly retired, learning disability support worker from the Northallerton area

After working as a builder since the age of 15, the only regret Bobby has about making the move into care is that he didn’t do it 20 years sooner.

“I’ve got my wife to thank, really. At the time she was working for a local charity and needed someone to stand in one Saturday as a chaperone. I did it to help her out even though I was really apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect. Nobody was more surprised than me how much I loved it!”

Bobby continued to chaperone alongside his job in the building trade until circumstances meant he was unable to continue building. From then to his retirement Bobby worked in care full-time.

“There wasn’t a day gone by where I didn’t enjoy going to work. It was great being part of a team and always picking up new things. We were like one big family and we learnt from each other. That includes the people I help to care for. People might not know what to expect from someone with a learning disability but they help and support each other, too. It was great seeing them enjoying life.”

The satisfaction, said Bobby, of providing people with the best possible support was second to none.

“When I got a smile from the people I cared for I knew I was doing my job right. It felt great knowing that the support I gave to them is what I would have wanted for myself or my own family. This job really meant something to me.”

Angie, a care service manager in the Scarborough and Ryedale area

Angie has always had a passion for social care values and is determined to get to the top in her field.

She said: “My career started in a hotel working as a hospitality manager. When we moved to Northallerton after starting a family I took on a role at a private hospital. My office window looked out onto a dementia courtyard and seeing that day after day made me realise that I wanted to be doing something that makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Motivated by this, Angie started to take on some care shifts then moved to a pastoral care officer role. Angie progressed quickly to become a locality support officer before taking up the position of social care coordinator. “From there I was chosen to be a part of the health interface team which involved predominantly supporting people with complex needs after they leave hospital. I gained lots of experience in this role and enjoyed working with the health service teams.”

Next, Angie went on to her first management role with the Swaledale reablement team and after four years moved to being a registered manager. She has now been promoted to care service manager.

Angie has benefitted from extensive career development opportunities completing an NVQ Level 2 and 3. She now holds a Level 5 Leadership Diploma in Adult Social Care, all achieved while doing a job that she loves.

“I love my job and the team I work with. They’re valuable people providing a vital service. Being able to make a difference to so many lives while still being able to enjoy fantastic benefits and a good work-life balance is fantastic.”

Adrian, a reablement worker based in the community in the Richmond area

At the age of 20, Adrian started his career working at a day centre in Surrey where he supported people of all ages with mental health problems. Adrian has been in his current role for seven years and loves the satisfaction of helping people get their independence back.

“Everybody is going to need some kind of help at some point during their life and, if we’re really lucky, it will be towards the end. Some people aren’t that lucky and I want my career to involve doing something that people genuinely appreciate. Working in care you’re not just another cog in the wheel, you are recognised for what you do.

“The most rewarding thing is seeing people out in the community who didn’t ever think that they would be independent again, getting their confidence back and doing what they used to do with no problems. My role involves letting people know what services they can access, supporting them to cook for themselves, getting them out socialising or reviving an interest in a hobby. It can be occasionally challenging, some people can be reluctant to accept help but after a short time of visiting don’t ever want you to leave.”

Being able to benefit from extensive training is a big selling point for Adrian. He is able to build on his knowledge to offer the best care to those he supports.

“It’s impossible to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, some people have dealt with life-changing events, so giving them a new lease of life is so rewarding.”

Holly, a registered manager in the Harrogate area

Holly, 27, left college not knowing what she wanted to do. At 18 she still wanted to socialise with friends but needed a job to pay for it! After securing a relief position as a resource worker on a rehab unit, she was able to work as many hours as she wished, earned some money and gained experience in an area she grew to love.

“I did English language and sociology at college, so adult social care was not really something I saw myself doing. I’ve been here over 10 years now and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Sometimes no matter how much you prepare in life, things don’t always go as planned – they say the best things happen unexpectedly.”

From starting her career as a relief worker, she has swiftly progressed through the ranks and is now a registered manager.

“The variety of the role is the best thing about it, every day is different. I’m always kept on my toes! It might be unpredictable but seeing the progression and improvements people make and helping them to go home again is amazing.”

For now, Holly is settled in her current role. There is always something new to learn but she would never say never to another step on the ladder if the opportunity became available.

“I’ve progressed and I’ve loved every second of my career so far. I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it and I’d encourage anyone to just give it a go. The work/life balance is great and there are always relief opportunities to work alongside studying and other commitments.”

Hannah, a reablement team leader in Bainbridge

Hannah joined the County Council’s health and adult services team eight years ago. With no training or experience of the sector, Hannah never considered a career in care, but after a number of years working as a store supervisor she was ready for a change.

“My previous job in retail just wasn’t enough for me, I wanted something more. When I first started working in care I don’t think I realised the amount of help some people need and the varied health conditions people can have. Being able to help them improve their lives even just small amount makes a huge difference. It isn’t just about going to someone’s home and doing your job. It’s about building relationships and getting to know them.”

Since joining the Council eight years ago, Hannah has progressed to being a senior member of the START team and has gained various qualifications along the way. Hannah hopes to progress within health and adult services and knows that she will have the full support of her colleagues.

“I really like being able to interact with a variety of people, including clients, professionals, the general public and other carers who may need some form of support. Working in care really opens your eyes to a lot of different situations but it’s so rewarding to know that everyone you support appreciates your help. I would recommend it to anyone.”

This story was published 6 September 2017