Back when I had a pudding bowl haircut, I never imagined that I would work in healthcare. (If you had a pudding bowl haircut, what did you want to be when you grew up? And I’m expecting to see #backwhenIhadaPudBowl trending on social media)
I thought about joining the police, or becoming an an electrician like my dad. But through all my options, I certainly never considered healthcare; I don’t like blood or needles for a start!
Healthcare was never something discussed on career day at school, and even then it wouldn’t have been something boys were informed about.
Because of this, I ended up undertaking an electrical apprenticeship with a view to follow in the footsteps of my father.
Unfortunately, in 2010 the company we worked for went bust under the continued strain of the financial crisis. I was in my last year of the apprenticeship, and to complete the course I had to be employed. With very little work around, I decided to get a job until another electrical opportunity came up.
My partner at the time worked in the healthcare industry, so I joined with a healthcare agency. Went through the interview, the DBS and the training. “Right off you go”, they said! Really? I am licensed to care for others? I wasn’t completely convinced I was capable of looking after myself, let alone others!
I went to my first shift a bag of nerves. Will the residents like me? Will I get on with colleagues? Am I even capable of doing this job? It seemed to me, and still does, that there cannot be a more important job than what I was about to do.
I had no experience of being in care, none, zero, nada. I was most likely the definition of the dreaded agency worker. No experience, given basic training on a hoist and first aid, told how to identify a fire exit… and off you go!
These homes don’t need someone fresh off the press, they need someone who can get stuck in to replace that full-time staff member that called in sick an hour before their shift. Everyone has picked up the slack until you’ve arrived, and now you need to save the day and help them get back on top of it. You know how to use the hoist, and if someone stops breathing you know how to resuscitate.
“Can you help this resident to have their evening meal?”
“Can you change this residents pad?”
That is what they need from you. No blood, no needles, and while it was scary being asked to assist feeding someone for the first time to change a pad for the first time, I found that I wanted to do it. Caring for these people whom for one reason or another were no longer able to do for themselves felt rewarding. I didn’t know how to care for anyone else, but I knew how I would want my family to be cared for.
What I lacked in experience I made up for with passion for the role. Passion for delivering great care is the most important trait for every person within the care sector from the Health Minister to the Manager, to the Kitchen Assistant in the home.
I never looked back at getting that electrical job again, because what I had found an occupation that was more than just a “job”.
How did you get into care? And what did you want to be back when you had a pudding bowl haircut?