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Our bright and airy office in Newcastle is located just a short walk from the popular suburb of Gosforth. Our Tyneside service is the largest within Be Caring, so our office has a dynamic, lively feel! Our office team are super friendly (what else would you expect from a room full of Geordies?!) and always have some kind of sweet treats on the go – midget gems are a particular favourite if you’re ever wanting to score some serious brownie points!
I started caring for people in 1995 as a mental health volunteer doing 16 hours a week. The role was to help get people reacquainted with what we’d consider ‘every day’ stuff. Things like getting on the bus or going to the pictures. In those days there wasn’t sufficient infrastructure to support people with mental health problems, so they relied on volunteers.
I was told to use my life experience to help people along. It was really good from a personal point of view. At that time of my life, being responsible for someone else gave me a lot of self-confidence. It was very rewarding, but still only voluntary. I wanted to get a paid job. I ended up doing my NVQ with a placement and got taken on in an elderly care home for people with Alzheimer’s. While I don’t regret my time there, it’s not something I’d do again. It was very hard work and I wasn’t particularly suited to it.
I was also working as a mental health bank nurse at the same time, which I found very stressful. I was doing so many hours a week I ended up feeling overworked, and while I enjoyed both types of jobs – the mental health and care work – I was coming to the end of my time juggling both. I decided to pursue other opportunities for a while. I went on to work as a barman and a manager. I’ve also worked in marketing and owned a pet shop – so you could say I’ve had quite a varied career!
It wasn’t until 2014, after the financial crash, that I found myself looking for work again. I felt confident that I then had more life experience and so could balance my work and home life better. After sending my CV out to various care providers, I was taken on by CASA (as we were called at the time) as a care worker in Complex and Palliative care. It felt like a better time for me to be a care worker than before.
It felt like that was when my life experience really came in useful. I had a seizure 6 years ago which quite frankly nearly killed me, but it gave me a lot of perspective on life. I found that I was good at working in Palliative because I didn’t fear death and was more comfortable talking about it than most people. When I was speaking to the families, I could say the right thing and mean it. It sometimes helps if you can share personal experiences like that.
Having the seizure gave me a tonne of insight into what’s important in life. I used to be a tremendous money worrier and now I see how trivial that is. You come into the world naked, and naked you go out. In Palliative care, you’re often only with people for a few weeks, but you can still make a real difference to someone’s life.
Sometimes, families would invite me to the funeral of their loved one, often sending me a handwritten card saying, ‘thank you so much for the care you’ve provided’. It means a lot when that happens.
Think carefully about it. Do you have the right attitude? Are you empathetic to other people’s needs? When I was in my 20’s, I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t as empathetic as I am now, so life experience definitely helps. Saying that, I’ve met some lovely younger people (some were studying psychology) who were very knowledgeable and seemed to have the right mindset for the job.
Complex care requires dedication, commitment and a genuine will to make a difference. The goal is to make sure our customers’ needs are met, where they feel most comfortable, within their own homes. Complex care may include:
Our palliative care service is designed to reduce and relieve symptoms of cancer and its treatment. Firstly we offer support for dealing with pain. Secondly, we help deal with anxieties and worries concerning symptoms and treatment. The goal is for our clients to remain as content and comfortable as possible. Palliative care may include:
We are always on the lookout for talented, friendly people who – like us – are truly passionate about care and want to make a real difference to the lives of others.
Do you want to play a part in shaping the future of social care?
We’re looking for passionate people who genuinely care, with a will to make a difference. We offer excellent support, training and exciting career opportunities.
We’re employee-owned, meaning profits don’t come first – people do.