I left my old job for a new career in social care – and now I get to see the kids

I’D often thought about becoming a care worker, but didn’t think I could do it. Instead I worked in retail – in supermarkets, fast food restaurants and high street clothes shops – but it was always just a job, a way to earn money. I was also working evenings, so I never saw my kids, Kieren, 13, Bradley, 10, and Jamie, who is just four. Something had to change.

Then I spotted an advert on Facebook for work in social care, so I spoke to the recruiter, who persuaded me to go for it.

Kelly became a care worker after years of working in retailI was offered a job at a local care home in October last year. At first I was scared – but I can honestly say that I loved it from the moment I set foot inside the home. I quickly realised that the time flies; you enable someone and you make such a difference to their day.

Retail was backbreaking: people can be rude, and stacking shelves was exhausting. Working in social care, you’re making a difference to every person you speak to, in every room you walk into. While it’s not always easy, it’s definitely worth it.

Now my work is flexible, and my job fits perfectly around my children. I work from 9.45am to 2.15pm, so I’m busy in the middle of the school day – my boss has been fantastic in making it work for me. I occasionally do afternoon shifts if my partner’s at home, and I even pop in at weekends sometimes, just because I love what I do now.

In retail I learned to hold easy conversations with everyone I met – and that’s a big part of my new job. The difference is that these days I go to work with a smile on my face and come home with an even bigger smile. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and it’s because I’m doing a job I love that I find rewarding and fulfilling.

These are difficult times, and I really feel like I’m making a difference to the 62 people who live in the home – and their families. I feel very privileged to be involved in their lives. I help with activities and go from room to room sitting with people who need someone to talk to. I chat to them, I paint the ladies’ nails, we go for walks in the garden together. We talk about their childhoods and I listen as they remember; I learn as much from them as they do from me.

Social care feels so worthwhile. It’s not about the pay, it’s about doing a job that changes lives, of the people I support, of their families, and I’m changing my own life too. I feel I can create positive change every time I go to work, and that’s an incredible feeling.

The most challenging thing is when people pass away. That breaks my heart every time. You’ve built a bond with someone, so losing them is always sad, and it never gets any easier.

My journey over the last year has been amazing. I’ve learned so much about myself in this job. Sometimes you have to stop doubting yourself; if you are kind and want to make a difference, just give it a try. I’m making a difference to people’s lives, and that makes every working day a happy one.

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