Three employees of Leonard Cheshire Disability in Lurgan are part of a scheme which aims to promote careers in social care and encourage new recruits by sharing their enthusiasm for the work they do.
Anita Scullion, Shauna Kelly and Emma Cassidy regularly visit schools, colleges and recruitment events to talk about working in the social care sector, as part of the Ambassador for Careers in Care programme.
Anita is manager of Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Supported Living centre, Cheshire Mews. She joined the Ambassador for Careers in Care scheme, which is managed by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), in 2012.
She began working for Leonard Cheshire Disability in November 2001 and has worked her way up to management level, gaining valuable experience and qualifications along the way.
“Our services make a significant difference to the people we provide care and support to, that’s why I enjoy my job so much,” Anita says
“What really draws me to this kind of work is that I like to see the person and not the disability. Everyone has a story to tell and I enjoy listening to our service users and witnessing their journey. I get great job satisfaction from knowing we can enable people with complex disabilities to live full, independent lives and be part of the community.”
Anita studied Media and Theatre at Southern Regional College in Banbridge and went on to continue her studies at Ulster University, but she realised this was not the right option for her.
“After two years it was evident this was not for me,” she says
“I left university and got a part-time job as a care worker with Leonard Cheshire Disability - I knew then I had made the right choice, and the rest, as they say, is history. I don’t see my current role as a job so much as a vocation. I honestly don’t know if I could do anything else career-wise with the same passion I do this role. There are lots of opportunities within Leonard Cheshire Disability and good future career opportunities as the organisation continues to expand”
Anita’s advice for anyone considering a career in social care is to have the right attitude and skills:
“For someone who hopes to work in care I recommend that they are skilled in listening, are not judgemental and can take the lead from the person they are providing the care to. It’s very important to have good communication skills, to be patient, kind and have empathy. It’s also useful to be self-aware and willing to take on a challenge. I have learned over the years to enable and encourage rather than ‘do’, this gives people a lot more self-worth which I feel goes a very long way.”
Shauna Kelly is a recent recruit to the NISCC Ambassadors for Careers in Care scheme and has worked in Leonard Cheshire Disability for three years. Like Anita, Shauna is hugely enthusiastic about her work:
“When I come into work each day I feel glad that I can make a difference in someone else’s life. I enjoy helping to support people to do things they cannot do due to their disability. This work suits me because I enjoy working with people – I see myself as a friendly person and I have the ability to empathise. I think this work has changed me as a person because I realise that not every person is the same and we all have our own barriers to overcome in life.”
Shauna studied Health and Social Care in SWC Banbridge and completed a work placement in Leonard Cheshire Disability before taking up the post of support worker.
Like Anita, Shauna benefits from in-house training and has gained many qualifications through her employer’s training programme.
Shauna is passionate about encouraging new recruits to the sector:
“I would recommend working in the care sector because it is always different - no two days are the same. If anyone is thinking about this kind of work, if you’re friendly, empathetic and like a challenge, I would say ‘go for it’. You will never be bored, always be challenged and it is very rewarding. There are also plenty of opportunities to develop yourself, personally and professionally.”
Emma Cassidy is also part of the Ambassadors scheme. The support worker has been with Leonard Cheshire Disability since 2012 and like Shauna, studied Health and Social Care before completing a placement and later taking up the role of support worker.
Emma is now part of Leonard Cheshire’s Community Team which involves providing care and support in clients’ homes.
She has the same passion for her work as both her colleagues and loves the variety that each day brings:
“If I had to use three words to describe my job they would be ‘challenging’, ‘emotional’ and ‘worthwhile’. The thing I enjoy most about my work is the difference I make in people’s lives and seeing how much they appreciate the small things I do as well as the big. I love working with people and getting to know them on a personal basis. Leonard Cheshire was my first job after education but personally I don’t think I would enjoy another job as well as this one.”
The girls are keen to dispel the myths around the social care sector and want to promote the positive side of the work:
Anita feels that being an Ambassador is a good way to counteract some of the negative perceptions people have about the sector: “It’s unfortunate that the public view of social care workers isn’t always positive. Part of our role as Ambassadors is to tell people that there are many dedicated, well-trained and committed workers out there who really want to make a difference.”