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Jacob

Care Supervisor

Hepscott Park

Caring is in my family, my mum is an assistant manager in a service like this, so I’ve always had an interest. I used to help out at the horticultural facilities in the summer with barbecues when I was a teenager. I went to uni and did a history degree and learnt more about disabled people over the past few centuries and how they were treated, which is why I think this kind of work is really important. It gives people with a learning disability a platform to see what they can do, and find out the great things they’re capable of. The line between who is a carer and who’s a client is more blurred here, there’s a sense of equality about it. 

I like meeting people in the morning, the service users are all really friendly so it’s lovely just to say hello, have a cup of tea, see what they’ve been up to. Same with lunchtimes, having a bit of a joke with them and not taking the job too seriously, it means that the atmosphere here is always friendly. 

If you care about people this is a really good thing to get into. You get to contribute to people’s development but they also teach you things and give a lot back. It can be really rewarding to have this back-and-for with the people you look after, they always have such interesting stories. There’s always someone supporting you and your development too, and helping you through. There are different events throughout the year so you’re always busy working towards something different; Easter, Christmas, summer fayres. There’s lots of different skills you help people develop, yes it’s caring but there’s also art, cooking, life skills, loads of different things that are really interesting.

 
 
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Jenny

Care/support worker

Tynedale Horticultural Service, Minsteracres


I got into caring quite recently. I was a chef, I ran a catering company, then I started studying for a psychology course with the Open University. I’m doing my finals this month. I started here because I wanted to get some experience with care and psychology. There was a cleaning job initially, then I started doing casual shifts caring, and I love it, so it’s become more regular. When I finish my degree I want to keep doing this, and then maybe do some further education. I can work here and build up my practical skills in the meantime. 

I’m really happy here. It’s quite an unusual service as it allows people to fulfil their potential, it gives people a lot of freedom which I’m not sure is the same in all care jobs. I love this one, it’s right for me, and I think it’s perfect for the clients. The fact that staff and service users stay for so long says a lot about the service. 

For people who have learning disabilities your life is quite controlled because you’re seen as vulnerable, but here they have a lot more freedom to be themselves. That’s something I want to be a part of. 

I love the fact that we’re outdoors all the time, and that it’s manual. I need to be moving, it's a good form of exercise for the clients, and for me too. Being in nature is like therapy in itself. 

You need compassion for this job, the ability to be patient and look at the bigger picture. Take your time to get to know people, you don't know what their normal is until you've known them for a while. For people with limited communication it's important to have continuity, so you need to spend time getting to know and understand them. In the daily notes you have to be really honest about what's happened so no-one’s on the back foot. I feel like everyone is a big group of pals going to work, like on a building site. We don't take ourselves completely seriously, we have a laugh and get to know people so they trust us. Being able to create relationships but also enforcing the boundaries without saying no, being tactful, is important too. 

The fact that it’s horticultural really attracted me here; I garden loads at home, being a chef I grow vegetables. We do a bit of cooking here, we do chutneys and soups and things, especially in the winter. I'm quite maternal really, I like making food, I like finding out about people's lives, they've got really interesting stories to tell you. When we first meet people who can’t communicate really well you find it difficult but with time you learn to understand. Having a good boss helps too, Karen’s really good and understanding, I feel like I could go and chat to her about anything and it would be dealt with in the right way. In care if you feel supported by your manager you can do a good job. It’s good with safeguarding to know that your manager will do the right thing. 

This doesn't feel as much like care work, more like you're supporting people to work. There are people who need a lot of care but they seem to become more independent here. 

I think it’s important to find the right care job for you. I don't think I could do every care job, I’m lucky I found one that suits me. I think there is one for everyone though because it’s so varied. My mother is a live in carer which suits her, I couldn’t do it, but this one is perfect for me. And it’s fun, without a doubt the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had, that's why I want to stay. 


 
 
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Adrian

Care worker

Mowbray Day Centre



I joined Bedlington day centre to help set up a garden, and before I knew it I was in the kitchen. I’ve got a background in running bread making courses privately so it’s really applicable to this job. We’ve got a little garden here now but we’re not managing to do it much at the moment so hopefully we can expand that during the good weather, I’d like to do the cooking and some gardening.

When I was a care supervisor I did loads of training and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, but in the end it was really helpful. You’re warned about challenging behaviour and you think ‘oh it’ll be scary’ but it’s not, the service users are just loud or boisterous, they’re all lovely to work with. 

The work is really varied, I’m covering for a kitchen assistant today, but I could be helping with anything. You get service users involved in doing things like baking, you don’t do anything for them, so they’re actually picking up life skills. The variety is definitely a great thing in this job, you’ve got to be able to adapt to the work. It doesn’t feel like a job at all.  

We started off with a small baking group, and now there’s fourteen in every group in the kitchen and it’s packed. It’s good to see everything work and grow based on what the service users actually want. 

Give caring a go, absolutely. You get a lot out of it, you really do. We definitely need more people to get into it.

 
 
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Donna

Care worker

Tynedale House

I’ve worked here for four and a half years now. I did telesales before that, and then bar work. I don’t know why I decided to start care work really, I’ve just always worked with people and I like that.

The satisfaction you get is amazing. It’s 24/7 care here, but I work days. I like getting here, doing a day’s work and then getting home and having family time. Most of the actual job is housework, that’s the main part of it. You want things to be clean and safe, it’s their home. You always get close to the residents, it's really hard to lose them. They’re just like family. 

I look at it like we’re intruders, we’re going into their home so we have to do our best to fit in and make them happy. They trust you, and their family trust you to look after them properly. If we can make their day with even a little thing, make them laugh, make them feel seen. That’s why I don’t wear a uniform, I want everyone to feel like we’re all the same, not ‘us and them’. It makes the atmosphere more relaxed, and you can have a laugh and be their friend. 

We’re trying to get them out once a week for trips. We went to Amble for fish and chips last week, ended up being the whole day but it was great. This week we went to Morpeth and did some shopping, all just normal activities that you can help them with. You want to make the whole environment as much like a normal home and a normal life as possible. 

I left school with no qualifications, I think I’ve got more over the last four years than I ever got in school. The training opportunities are really good. 

You need patience to work in this career definitely, and a lot of empathy. You need to know how to treat people well, and want to make their day better. 

 
 
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Bev

Service Manager

Tynedale Centre Hexham





I’ve always been in care but I used to travel a lot more. I’d just leave my job and go where I wanted to go. Then I got into Newcastle Social Services in the relief bank, and absolutely loved it. I loved doing care for the council, I’d never had those training opportunities before. Then I moved up this way and applied for a job and never looked back. I came here 25 years ago as a care assistant up at Dean Park, loads of doors have opened for me since then. The council is so brilliant for training opportunities. I went up to assistant manager, and then to manager. 

I started with a manager who if you fell down you just had to get up and deal with it. I had to go to meetings where I felt out of my depth but in some ways it was really good for development. Luckily it’s far more supportive now, we make sure no-one feels like they’re dealing with too much at once. But I like to see people pushing themselves and trying different things, and going home satisfied. I push the staff a little bit to take on more responsibility when they’ve come up with an idea, I let them see it through and they are so pleased and proud of what they’ve done. 

We have volunteers at this centre too as well as carers because otherwise we wouldn’t get the number of staff. We provide them with moving and handling and basic first aid qualifications. Some of the volunteers come and they’re so shy, and then even after a week you can see the progress in their confidence, and it makes them feel valued in the community. This centre is definitely not humdrum, it’s very exciting, and there are loads of projects to get involved with. 

There a lot of opportunities in care, you might start off in adult social care and then branch out into safeguarding or nursing or loads of other things. People specialise in particular areas too. In this job our main manager likes us to specialise in certain areas so he’ll help us specialise in that. You won’t just be coming into care, you’ll get experience that’s applicable to lots of jobs, it’s a really broad job.