People of all ages and all backgrounds work as care professionals in North Yorkshire - so come and join the team and make a difference to people’s lives.
That’s the message this week as the county’s social care leaders send out an appeal for people to join a profession which offers a rewarding lifetime career.
All sorts of people across the county have made this life-changing step into the care profession, from builders and retail workers to accountants, young graduates and parents wanting flexible but rewarding work.
“We have people who have joined us from all different types of experiences, some from the entertainment sector; actors, drummers, from the travel sectors; pilots, cabin crew, and everything in-between” said Cllr Michael Harrison, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Adult Services and Health Integration.
“People do not need to have experience – if you have empathy, if you enjoy solving problems for people and getting things done to help people lead as fulfilling lives as possible – then you will thrive in this role.
“There is a great career to be had in care and great stability and we support people who join us with career development. Many who start on the frontline with no previous qualifications can progress to become team leaders, moving into management and professional roles such as social workers, occupational therapists, nurses and public health consultants.
“From the word go you can make a big difference to somebody’s life in this job; the work that you do really counts towards improving lives and no two days are the same.”
Across the county North Yorkshire has 20,000 people working in the care sector, from the 13,000 care and support workers in 500 organisations providing services in residential care and people’s homes through to social workers, project managers and administrators.
On any given day there are at least 1,000 jobs available across the county.
Never has the need for people to work in care been so great and North Yorkshire is joining the national campaign launched this month to encourage people to step into the profession.
“Come and join us in this great work,” said Richard Webb, North Yorkshire County Council’s Corporate Director for Health and Adult Services
“There has never been a more urgent need for people to consider a career in care than now and never a more opportune time to come into it.
“We are proud of our care professionals In North Yorkshire. They are a great and diverse band of people who do fantastic work across the county to make life better in whatever way they can for the people they care for.
“It is far more than just a job.
“It’s about building relationships and helping people achieve often simple, daily tasks which they are no longer able to complete by themselves. It’s about supporting people, often with fascinating life stories, to live well and with dignity.”
Rachel Bowes, North Yorkshire’s Assistant Director of Care and Support, knows perhaps more than anybody the great rewards of spending a lifetime career in care.
She started her career as a front-line care worker, working weekend shifts while an A-level student at college and then in a gap year while she decided between nursing and teaching: “I found work in the care sector so rewarding that I abandoned those ideas and stayed on, “ she said.
That decision provided Rachel with the opportunities to progress through a successful, varied and satisfying career.
She went on to undertake a wide range of front line and management roles across the care industry, while studying for an Open University degree in social care.
Despite the seniority of her current role, Rachel knows the importance of front line work and the job satisfaction it brings for those involved.
She said: “I have memories which go right back to my days as a new care assistant that I will always cherish. I have met and had the privilege of getting to know people who have left their mark and shaped my approach to work and the way I live my life.
“I feel really grateful to have had that opportunity. I feel really lucky to be in this current role, but nothing beats the satisfaction when someone is unwell or uncomfortable, being able to do something which makes them feel better.
“Working in the care sector is a rewarding experience for many different reasons and we are grateful to those who have chosen to make a career in this area.
"North Yorkshire has many varied opportunities in care and it is possible for colleagues to develop a fulfilling and fantastic career.”
“Being a care professional is something I am so proud of. Every day in the job is different and at the end of every day I always feel I have made a difference,” said Flavia Nyambira, a North Yorkshire care and support worker.
Flavia has worked for the last four years helping people who have come out of hospital or experienced a physical or mental difficulty, to get back on their own feet in their own home.
She came into the care profession after 11 years working in the British Army as a postal and courier service operator in Germany. When Flavia was posted back to Catterick with her soldier husband and their three children she started to look for work that she could fit around her family.
She said: “I absolutely loved being a care worker from day one and in this job I am supported and given every opportunity to do the work to the best of my ability.”
Flavia was taken on under the County Council’s apprenticeship scheme and is currently working to complete her NVQ level 3, which will give her the qualification to become a team leader.
She said: “I don’t just have a job, I have a career and I am learning while I am working.” Flavia is given one day a week to complete her studies and is considering going on to become a social worker in the long term.
She said: “I thought about going to university to study to be a social worker but I didn’t want to come out with a debt. With this job, I could apply to be supported to gain my social work qualification.
“The rewards of being in the care profession are huge.
“I support people with care and encouragement and the right equipment to regain confidence to do things for themselves again. It’s so great to see the look of happiness on their faces when they can get back their independence.
“Everybody we care for has a story to tell and it’s good to be a listening ear when they are going through a difficult situation.
“I support people of all ages. You always have that satisfaction knowing every day that you have done something worthwhile for somebody.”
It was a lightbulb moment for Adrian Loveless that switched him over to life as a care professional.
After 25 years a retail manager for Pets at Home and then Curry’s, Adrian suddenly realised he had reached his limit selling TVs when his fiercely independent parents needed the help of carers to continue to lead fulfilling lives.
“I suddenly thought ‘that’s the job for me’ ” he said. “At the end of each working day I wanted to feel I had made a real difference to somebody’s life.”
Adrian never looked back and has worked as a care professional for the last nine years. He supports people in the community to regain their independence and build up their confidence after an illness or a fall or other difficulty.
He said: “You never get bored in this job. Every day brings different challenges, different people. I see my job as helping people, young and old, feel they are worth something, feel that they can do things and make a contribution, that they can have a quality of life.
“When people come out of hospital they are at first so relieved to be at home; everybody wants to be at home, all your memories are there, all your familiar things. Then the reality hits them that they can’t do the things they used to be able to do. My job is to support them to get back to doing things for themselves to make them feel they have worth.
“This job gives you all the training you need to make those decisions that can make people’s lives better.
“My work also makes a difference to families who are often so grateful that somebody is there to give the care needed to their loved one. You never get tired of seeing that look of gratitude and relief.”
If the whole world’s a stage, then Milestone House in Scarborough is home to a uniquely important ‘performance’ - as actor Michael Westlund forges a new career in the care sector.
Michael has become familiar with the bright lights in recent years, working alongside stars of the screen in films like Star Wars and TV shows including North Yorkshire’s own All Creatures Great and Small, Downton Abbey and Peaky Blinders.
But while they provide first rate entertainment, Michael’s current role at Milestone House is infinitely more important.
He helps to care for those with learning difficulties who are on short breaks, and which has also provided places for people discharged from hospital, where a return straight home is not possible.
Michael signed up to work at Milestone House during the Covid-19 pandemic, a challenging period but one which provided opportunities for job satisfaction.
It answered his instinct to do something helpful during the national crisis and he has found it so rewarding he has stayed on at the Seamer home.
“I get a lot of satisfaction out of it,” he said. “I do pretty much everything, personal care, taking people out around the village, and organising activities.”
Few people are fortunate enough to avoid being touched by the impact of dementia on family or friends at some point.
Sharon Moss found herself in exactly that position when her grandfather succumbed to Alzheimer’s.
But in Sharon’s case, it was to project her on to a remarkable career in care.
Her grandfather was Middlesbrough and England footballer George Hardwick and she appeared destined for a career in the world of sport, working at a horse racing stables in Malton.
However she returned home to Scarborough to work in domiciliary care and was so shocked by her grandfather’s deterioration that she instinctively decided to learn more about the illness.
That decision proved to be a pivotal point in her career and one which demonstrates the options which can unfold for those who follow a career in that field.
Sharon’s professional interest in dementia took her into adult social care and a career with the County Council.
That choice opened up a series of opportunities which led to her managing a home - a leap which would have been difficult to imagine in the early stages of her career.
“I studied, did dementia training courses and became senior team leader in a dementia unit,” she said.
Career developments took her to Benkhill Lodge at Bedale and when the existing manager moved on, Sharon took the plunge and applied for the job.
Despite the role being a big career jump, she got the job and hasn’t looked back.
The position started with a six months secondment, but four months in her bosses knew they had made the right choice and the job became 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 absolutely love coming to work every day. Even during the pandemic. It feels like a privilege.”
A 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 progress their careers and develop further.