Sunil had never considered a job in the social care sector, until life experience opened his eyes to a new role. An ex-kickboxing athlete, he had earned a degree in sports psychology and set up his own business with a friend: a gym that helped to support youngsters and older people with anxiety.
During his university years, his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was also disabled, so he became her main caregiver, helped by his sisters, until she passed away. Following those difficult years, he was keen to continue his involvement in the gym, but also wanted to pursue avenues in which he could support others: “I’d always enjoyed helping people to achieve, and I knew I could give a really high standard of care, so I started to ask myself what else I could do.”
Not long afterwards, he came across the role of a home care assistant. “It was a complete change and to be honest I didn’t think I had the CV for it. I had a degree, but no qualifications geared towards care. My only experience had been looking after my mum.”
His confidence was bolstered, however, after an interview with his current company, who explained that taking on the role of a care worker didn’t require qualifications and he could learn through on-the-job training and the shadowing of others. “From the moment I started, I was made to feel very welcome. During the interview I mentioned my mum and why I wanted to go into social care, and they were so understanding – the director even shared his own experience of having a parent with dementia. You could tell there was genuine care for both staff and the people they support.”
His company initially paired him with two people that they knew he’d get along with and after just two weeks of shadowing, he felt confident enough to take the lead on calls with people. Sunil found it was certain soft skills that made the transition into his new role easier: “Communication is crucial, but your heart has to be in it too. Having empathy and being a caring and considerate person are what the people we support want to see.
“Understanding a person’s background is key – making the most of the company’s online courses on certain illnesses and taking time to read the care plan before each visit means you know what to expect and can help them even more.” Recently promoted to care supervisor, he loves the variety of his role, which could involve anything from providing hands-on care to competency checks, conducting training or doing telephone reviews. He also takes pride in the company he works for, who he describes as “helpful and thoughtful”. This is clear from the many initiatives they’ve run since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, including creating a food bank collection, providing a free shopping service and partnering with local businesses to create food packages for the vulnerable.
To anyone considering a career change or a move into the social care sector, Sunil suggests not overthinking it and simply taking the leap: “People have often asked me, ‘Do you think I could do this? I’ve never done it before,’ and it always reminds me of how I felt at the beginning. But it’s an engaging and stable job that’s hugely rewarding – I’d advise anyone to give it a try.”
His role has become even more crucial during the pandemic, and the rewards keep getting better. “I’ve had wonderful messages, emails and gifts passed on to me from the people I support and their families, who really appreciate us going above and beyond for their loved ones and making them feel safe. When I decided to become a care worker, all I wanted was to give people the confidence that their relatives were being well looked after, and a year-and-a-half down the line, the positive feedback just encourages me even more.”
Learn more about a career in care at everydayisdifferent.com