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Is working in Social Care a career or a job?

The simple answer is…. A career and this is why.

When I was at school, I did ok, I achieved all my GCSE’s. However, it didn’t come naturally to me – it took a lot of hard work and revision. I always knew I wanted to have a job working with people, but I always looked for roles such as a paramedic, a physio, or a nurse.

I went to college but was fed up with education and only lasted my first year after I had eventually picked up the courage to tell my mum that I didn’t want to go to university or even finish my college course. As her oldest child and having high expectations of me, this didn’t go down too well. Her exact words were: ‘well you better get yourself a good job and that you’re not working on a till’. But what else could I do without a strong education behind me?

I left collage and got a job as a Police officer: little 18-year-old me. The day came to the day I started…I didn’t go…I was scared. Being a police officer wasn’t for me at 18, I’d be eaten alive!

So the job hunting started again. Next job… Physio and OT assistant for the NHS. I loved it. This was the job for me…but how could I progress? The only answer was to go to university and become a physio or occupational therapist, but I didn’t have A levels and didn’t want to go back to education, so this wasn’t a choice.

Then my grandad (who was an inspiration to me) saved a job advert from the paper: Bank Support Worker in Learning Disability. Grandad said, ‘go for it Kirsty, you’re a natural’. My thought was, ‘why not’, I had no idea what the job entailed but the advert looked good.

Next thing I know I’m working as a bank support worker – supporting children with diagnosed learning disabilities and complex needs. I loved it!

As time when on, I got contracted hours and couldn’t get enough of work. Then a key worker role, and then I applied and got a senior role within the company. At this time, I was 19. I was now a senior support worker and loving life; this was my career. I was eager for more. I wanted to progress within the role and the social care industry. As a senior I took every piece of training available. I made mistakes, but I learnt lessons – very valuable lessons.

As the years went on, I knew this was the career I wanted and loved. I saw another recruitment ad in the paper: Deputy Manager of a residential care service. With all the experience I had gained, I put my interest forward. Next thing I know I get a phone call: ‘congratulations Kirsty’! I had done it; I was a deputy manager.

I was now 21 and found myself applying for an internal role for a registered manager. My thought was that ‘all experiences are knowledge’. Then the phone call: ‘congratulations Kirsty, you have been successful’! I couldn’t believe it, I was one of the youngest registered managers in the country!

I took this role and developed a team to open a new service and became a successful Registered Manager. My career doesn’t end here. In my role as a Registered Manager, I have gained an immense amount of experience. I have managed services in crisis; become a trainer; gained several NVQ’s / diploma’s; developed a service through a pandemic and most of all made a career for myself which has real purpose.

I earn a reasonable wage and I’m able to support my family. This career that has been very hard and stressful at times but has had a massively positive impact on people’s lives and positive memories for me. The rewards within this career are massive!

My career doesn’t, and won’t stop here – I can go on and on. I can develop further in the social care world – there are so many different opportunities.

So, there is your answer: Social Care is definitely a career and not just a job!

Kirsty Sweet

Registered Manager

Sandhurst Court – Horizon Healthcare Homes

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