As a learning and development manager with over 25 years’ experience working in a variety of senior roles, a career within social care was never really on my radar as an option. I started out in retail, moved into consultancy and then made a move into the NHS. It was only after a few months out of the working environment (when I took some time off to look after my daughter following an operation), that I decided to be more open minded about what opportunities might be out there.
It is fair to say that my career up until that point was predominantly based in a number of different corporate environments, which after all of those years was staring to take its toll. I therefore made a decision to look for something completely different which would allow me the flexibility to be more present for my child, to have a better work life balance and to work where I felt valued and could actually make a difference to people lives. I didn’t know what I wanted specifically, but had come to terms with the fact that this probably meant a complete career change.
It was purely by chance that when I was looking for opportunities, I came across an advert for Horizon Healthcare Homes. Never had I previously considered social care, but something about the advert caught my attention. Not only was the role advertised in learning and development, but the company seemed so sincere and value based that I immediately felt compelled to pursue this.
Now over three years later, I can honestly say that I have no regrets about moving into this sector. The fact that it was never on my radar is perhaps indicative of the perception of social care in general. I don’t know of any other learning and development professionals that strive to move into this sector which is a real shame, but I would bet good money on it being down to a lack of awareness of what working in social care is actually like in real terms.
Yes it is true that the salary doesn’t quite match the same levels of pay for my role as is offered in other environments; just as there is a salary inequality for support workers, managers and other roles. Yet there is so much more to gain from working in social care; the relationships we develop with the people we support, the closeness of the teams who are all striving to deliver the very best levels of care, the sense of achievement from helping people fulfil their hopes and dreams and live their very best lives possible…, these are just a couple of the wonderful benefits that come from a career in this sector. None of us are in it for the money, we do our roles because we want to make a difference. But we do need to promote the sector more effectively so that the wider public understand what it is really like and we attract the talent of those who – like me – lacked the knowledge and awareness of the opportunities available. It is challenging, stretching, fulfilling and rewarding. There absolutely are careers to be had in social care. We are not unskilled and we deserve recognition, respect and equality both in terms of perception and pay. But that’s not why we do it after all, and that is part of what makes it such a wonderful place to work…
Learning and Development Manager
Horizon Healthcare Homes Ltd.