Podcast Episode: Careers in Care: Adult social care
Category: Practitioner stories
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
MD - Michelle Drumm
S - Sarah
G - Gillian
D - Deborah
On the 16th of September 2019, Iriss attended the launch of the SSSC’s Careers and Care Website which was created to highlight the wide variety of career opportunities available in the sector. The resource demonstrates how people can build a career working with children and young people in social services and health care settings or as a social worker. We spoke to social services practitioners who share their career stories for use on the website. In this second episode of three, Sarah, Gillian and Deborah who work in various adult care settings tell us about their journeys into and experiences of the profession.
MD I’m here with Sarah and Gillian and Deborah, all of whom are either working in care at home, care home or community care environments. Can you tell me: did you always want to work in social services?
S I’ve only been working in social services for about a year, I’d been bringing up my kids and I’d worked in offices before that and I was looking for a job, came over this on the council website and decided to apply for it and got asked for an interview, and got the job.
MD Well done.
S And I’ve absolutely loved it. When I go home at night, I feel like I’ve made a difference to somebody’s life.
MD Wow, wow.
S And really, really enjoy it but I also had quite an ill dad who passed away so, I’m sort of used to looking after people.
S And my mum’s quite ill and my granny’s quite elderly as well so, sort of used to looking after people as well.
MD Uh huh, so this sort of work really fires you up, I suppose, doesn’t it?
S Yeah, uh huh. Really, really enjoy it, you feel like you’ve made a difference to people.
D That sounds similar to me Sarah …
S Uh huh.
D … I was working part time and bringing up my children, that was my main focus and then they’re now 14 and 17 and they don’t need you as much and you can go out the house and they’re still in the house and stuff so, I thought I’d better get myself a proper job and I was having a look on the website and I thought, “I think I could do that.” And it said that the qualifications weren’t necessary that they would train you up, you would be put through your SVQ’s which I quite like learning so I was looking forward to that as well and when I went for the job, the manager actually gave me a temporary position to start with. She said that because I was lacking in a lot of experience that she was going to give me a chance because she thought I had all the right values and the right attitude and the enthusiasm and like you say every single day, I tap myself on the back and think, “I’ve really made a difference.”
S It’s hard work.
D Yeah and a lot of people who have been in the job for a long time, I think they kind of look at me and roll their eyes cos they can’t believe I’m still bouncing in the door, absolutely loving it and they’re like, “Can I have some of what you had for your breakfast this morning?” I look after either it’s a one to one person or some day’s it’s like one to two or one to three so, like for example my favourite day of the week just now is a Wednesday when I take the lead on a sing and sign class and I had never done sign language before so I’ve had to research it on the internet and then go in and teach a group of people sign language to a song which is absolutely brilliant, jumping about dancing, enjoying myself and show all these people and they’re all loving it, it’s honestly it’s absolutely …
S Sometimes you forget you’re at work because you’re having such a good time.
MD That’s fantastic to hear, isn’t it? And Gillian, what about yourself?
G Well for me, I went to college first so, I did 3 years at college. I did the Scottish Group Award and then I did 2 years at the HNC in evening classes while I worked so, I’ve been at the job a long time, probably about 20 years. What I like about it is it’s so versatile, there’s so many different service groups and it’s just lovely to work with people and make a difference.
MD Uh huh and can I ask what a kind of typical day looks like for all of you?
S It’s a twelve-and-a-half-hour shift …
MD Oh, really?
S Yeah, start at seven and finish at half past seven at night.
MD You really have to be committed to this work.
S Yeah, it’s three days a week.
S But you go in in the morning and you get everybody up slowly, I’ve got fifteen residents on one unit and there’s normally about five of us and a social care worker and we just get them up, breakfast, try and find something to do: dominoes, sometimes a film it just depends on what it’s like or we try and go out if the weather’s good. It’s quite good for the ladies, we can do their hair and stuff.
S We’ve got curlers and stuff like that, we can do that.
MD So, you have to be hairdresser as well.
S Yeah, uh huh. The first couple of times it was horrible, you were scared in case you were going to burn somebody, but you’re fine, it’s absolutely fine, you’re not going to but it’s just that panic feeling that you might but it’s just great and then sometimes there’s people that are at end of life care but it’s, I think it’s a privilege to be with they people on their last moments of life, it’s very sad but it is a privilege to be there for their last moments of life and knowing that you’ve done the best for them, for the time that they’ve been there and that they’re going on to their next journey.
G So, I don’t actually get 12-hour shifts, I live in, so, I’m a live-in professional carer.
MD Oh (… UNCLEAR)
G I’m two weeks on duty, and two weeks off.
G But yeah, you do get breaks and it’s the same again, it’s very needs led so because it’s live in, in the clients own home you’ll get them up when they want to get up, you’ll assist them to shower when they want to have a shower and that can be when they’re good and ready, you know there’s no demand to move on to the next person cos it’s one to one care, yeah and I really enjoy that.
D Mine’s is mostly, generally Monday to Friday, nine till four-ish but we also work in some evenings to help with activities and do some weekend work as well, yeah. I’m still like aaahh for two weeks, working for two weeks
MD Yeah, they’re kind of three different types of (… UNCLEAR) really, that you have. Tell me what are the qualities that you need to do these jobs?
S You need to be kind.
G Yeah. I think you need to be dependable, patient and have a great sense of humour …
G … as well.
S Have a thick skin.
S Certainly, thick skin as well.
G Yeah, good interpersonal skills.
MD Okay so when you say, thick skinned?
S When you’re working with people with dementia …
S … they can pick out a lot of things, maybe if you’re a little bit over weight or anything, they can pick up on that and they can really be quite nasty but it’s the illness, it’s not …
S … them, they don’t mean it.
G You’ve got supervision, you know, you can discuss any …
S Just not to take anything to heart.
G Yes, uh huh.
S It happens quite often but that’s just the way they are.
G The person could be in pain, you know there could be so many …
S Yeah, there’s normally a reason behind it.
G … reasons, yeah.
MD Yeah but Deborah, you talked about creativity.
D Yeah, just using your imagination, if things are going wrong or somebody’s not happy or not doing something, you’ve got to try to jolly somebody along and get them to do what they need to be doing.
S Even when you’re feeling like you don’t really want to do it as well.
D Yeah, the last couple of hours on a Friday or your fortnight.
G I have a lady that won’t go out, you know, she’s in a wheelchair and she won’t go out but I’ve seen me bringing the garden in and just setting up compost and pots and …
S Yeah, yeah.
G … she’ll do it inside you know, it’s just trying to engage them in something that they will do.
S And what works for them.
G For them, yeah.
MD Brilliant, and what advice would you give to those who might be considering or thinking about working in social services and social care?
G Well I’d say it’s so varied, there’s so many different … you could have learning difficulties, you could have the older adult, it could be … you know, so many different aspects of it, even my own self in the 20 years I’ve been working I’ve had different service groups so, really you don’t have to be just rooted to one spot, you can expand and develop and it keeps things fresh and exciting.
MD Brilliant and you guys are here for the Careers in Care Website launch today which is quite exciting and you’re actually involved in telling your stories.
S Yes, I told my story.
MD How important do you think this resource is?
S Very important cos I think a lot of people are frightened to go into the care sector but I say, give it a go cos I never thought that I would be able to do it. You get so much training; you can keep doing more and more training and go on different paths and go to different things like young children instead of adults.
MD There’s really good career progression.
D Career progression and also a personal journey because I think that since I’ve started doing my job, I see the world in a different, absolutely different way but even just seeing people who’s … I had never worked with people with disabilities, learning disabilities before and I think when like you’re really young, you get told to stay from that man, it’s different up the road, and all that kind of stuff, whereas now I’ll confidently be able to say, “Good morning.” Or, “Hiya.” If I pass someone who’s like looking at you and they’re wondering what you’re doing. Yeah, it’s been a really, absolutely amazing personal journey for me.
G Even for me, I feel that with an aging population, people are living longer now and you know, there aren’t the same people to do the jobs so, you know, it’s a job that you’re never really going to be stuck for a job, there’s plenty of job …
S You’re always …
G … opportunities.
S … able to get work, yeah.
G And for people looking for a career, it’s definitely a good choice, if you’re a hands-on person.
D Yeah, if you’re willing to get stuck in.
S Definitely hard work but it’s so rewarding.
G Uh huh.
S You get so much out of it for you and to watch the other people as well, what they get out of it too.
MD Good ambassadors for the profession. Thanks for that anyway, I think we’ll leave it there, if that’s okay.
S Brilliant, yeah.
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