I started my career in care, straight out of school, in a local nursing home. Outside of work I befriended a young person with a learning disability and was blown away by his outlook on life, leading me to move from elderly care to learning disabilities. I liked the idea of supporting people to get a real holiday experience and being able to do this on a weekly basis made the respite team at Hansel the perfect choice for me!
I’ve been with Hansel for 11 years now, all of them within Respite Services. There are so many great things about working in respite - every week is a new challenge, it's great to see friendships being built up over the respite stay, and our most asked question at the end of a respite break is when can we come back !!
I started as a Care Assistant and have worked my way up to be the Respite Service Manager responsible for more than 30 staff and 220 service users (though not all at the same time! – we have 7 visitors at the Cabin and 8 at Taigh Mor each week with more on “Get Away” breaks and at Craig Tara during the summer).
Of course, I needed qualifications before I could become a Registered Manager and Hansel supported me to gain these, as well as providing guidance, leadership and mentoring as my role developed. I did my SVQ Level 3 (Promoting Independence) in 2004, then my SVQ Level 4 (Health & Social Care) in 2008 and later my SVQ Level 4 (Leadership and Management for Care Services). All this was on top of Hansel's in-house training and development opportunities.
Partnership work is central to Hansel's ethos and I have built strong professional relationships with clients, families, social workers, health professionals and a range of external agencies and experts. Not forgetting, of course, my colleagues within Hansel - the network of Service Managers and the Senior Management Team are excellent resources, helping me to meet the demands of my role.
And it's a challenging role. There are logistical demands in managing flexible and responsive respite services. Managing a diverse staff group, supporting their development, as I was supported, ensuring they are able to give their best to the people we work for – these things bring their own challenges. As does the service development work – Taigh Mor is a new service for us, and “Get Away” is being expanded. We are always looking at new ways to deliver respite which gives every client the very best service for them - so they can enjoy their holiday and their carers can be confident their loved one is well looked after. I was delighted with some of the comments given to the Care Inspectorate during their last inspection. (You can download the full report, 04 September 2012, here)
"I always get to do what I want and suggest"
"He loves Hansel and talks about all the places he has visited and things he has done for days after he comes home. Then he wants to know when he is back for his next holiday."
I can recommend a career in care, working for Hansel. It has given me a lot of satisfaction over the years - it's great to be able to do a good job and see the very real benefits it brings to people. For many people this is enough, but if you want to build your career and go after promotion there are opportunities and support to do that.