(Photography from Glasgow Live. Image: Elaine Livingstone) 

"Having a gab with residents and their families can be the most powerful thing you can do in this job – it lets you know who they really are and how best you can care for them.”

 

I can’t believe it’s been a whole decade since I changed my career from being a hairdresser to working in care – time flies when you’re having fun I suppose.

Looking back, I’m not sure if I or anyone else thought I’d stick to working in care homes for very long. When I first started, I was there for experience as I wanted to work in children’s care.

I went in thinking it was about making cups of tea and holding hands with elderly people, but what is so often misunderstood, or perhaps just forgotten, is that those living in the care home are people with stories, lives, families, likes, dislikes and a future which you can be a big part of.

That’s the best part, I think; you get to be a part of people’s lives, both residents and staff.

Whitecraigs Care Home is just around the corner from my house in Thornliebank where I’ve lived my whole life, so I knew of the home and knew it had a good reputation.

I’d often see the residents and staff on days out and think how good it would be to have a job where you can be out having fun in the community, working with local schools and making a difference while you’re at it.

Moving from being a self-employed hairdresser, as I was back then, to a care assistant seems like a strange move to many, but the great thing is, so many of the skills I had developed as a hairdresser were completely transferrable, and in a lot of cases gave me a step up.

I started in the dementia unit which was challenging, but my previous number of years in the salon had taught me how to set people at ease and listen carefully to their needs and wants, even when they aren’t quite sure of what they are really trying to tell you themselves. Having a gab with residents and their families can be the most powerful thing you can do in this job – it lets you know who they really are and how best you can care for them.

I was a care assistant for one year until I was asked to combine the role with being the in-house hairdresser which went a long way in building relationships with residents and their families, as well as my confidence.

In this job you are asked to bring your personality, life experience and a sense of humour to the fore. These are all so important when creating connections with our residents and their families. We are not there to simply ‘hold hands and make cups of tea’ as I had once thought. We are there to be a friend, a confidant, a nurse, a care worker, and in my case, a hairdresser.

I know it is my natural skills and personality which have helped me progress within Renaissance Care. I have recently been promoted to team leader at Whitecraigs, a role which was created to encourage, support and guide staff in the home.

In this new role I am less hands on which I do miss, but it gives me a chance to share what I’ve learnt with my colleagues who are looking to progress further in care or are new to the sector.

Here at Renaissance Care, we prioritise professional development for all our staff, no matter what their role. I have had the fortune of this myself and since being here have completed my SVQ 2 & 3 in health and social care, palliative care training (I am now Whitecraigs’ palliative champion), medication training and oral hygiene training.

I feel like this job changed my life for the better, and I’m proud to say that I know I have done that for other people in return since joining Whitecraigs.

I’m excited to see where this job takes me next, it’s never too late to make a change that is going to make you happy. I am so thankful to 25-year-old me for taking that step – the fulfilment I have and the difference I know I make every day is worth its weight in gold.

 

To find out more about the roles available at Renaissance Care’s Whitecraigs Care Home and across the group which has a total of 16 homes throughout Scotland, please visit our Careers Page

 

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