Care work – it’s rewarding and it opens doors
Lorna Kent is the registered manager at Candlelight’s Sherborne branch and has had a career in care for over 20 years. She manages a team of office and care staff and is responsible for ensuring that safe, high-quality care is provided to all clients.
When I first began working in care, I was employed as a care assistant at a local residential home and followed this job with a number of roles in residential care and hospital wards over the coming years.
When my children were young I worked when I could in a number of part-time roles. It was whilst doing some domestic cleaning at Warminster hospital that I realised that I really enjoyed the company of older people. I loved listening to their stories and making them laugh and soon realised that I was actually making a difference. I think that my employer spotted something in me too because I was soon offered a job as a care and support worker.
In 2006 I began work at a homecare company in Shaftesbury and realised that I had found my niche. I enjoyed the work and wanted to progress. I moved quite quickly through the ranks from domiciliary care, to liaison officer, then staff trainer, care coordinator and, finally, to registered manager. When the company I was working for was sold a few years later, I looked for a similar job in homecare elsewhere, and that’s when I saw that Candlelight Care was looking for a registered manager at its Sherborne branch. I jumped at the chance.
I never dreamed that I would progress so far and go on to become a registered manager supporting 80+ clients and 25 staff.
I’m proud of my achievements but it wasn’t always easy. I was constantly trying to juggle my work and family commitments, and needed to get a range of qualifications in order to move into different fields of work. These included ‘Diploma Level 2 in Health & Social Care’, ‘Diploma Level 3 as Care Assessor’ (now ‘A1 Award’) and ‘Diploma 5 in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Young People’s Services and Adult Management’. But I was determined to succeed and managed to tap into resources of time and energy that I didn’t know I had!
I had left school with very few qualifications and low career expectations due to undiagnosed dyslexia and very little support from my teachers. I married young and had children fairly early but I always knew that I wanted to have a worthwhile career. So I enrolled at a local college to study communication skills and basic English and Maths. It was at this point that my dyslexia was finally diagnosed and I was shown that that having dyslexia needn’t be seen as a barrier, but was simply a different way of learning. My confidence soared and I did well in my studies, which opened up a world of opportunities for me.
The highlights of care work
What I love about my management role is giving other people the confidence to succeed (I know what it’s like to face struggles in life, and I understand that things aren’t always simple for my staff). I really enjoy leading my teams and supporting, nurturing and developing individuals as they carry out their challenging jobs. I actively encourage my staff to gain qualifications and I believe in promoting from within. My team’s achievements fill me with joy too. For example, I was really proud to accompany one of my care workers to last year’s Care Focus Awards when she was nominated as a finalist in the Quality Specialist Award category.
Believe in yourself. Anyone can do what they want to do with the right guidance and support.
Care is a great field to work in because it’s so rewarding to know you are making a difference to people’s lives and it opens doors to other aspects of health and social care, including occupational therapy or nursing. The work can be challenging though and requires a particular set of skills. Some of these can be learned, whilst others are personal qualities that care workers need to have. But I hope that my story shows that anyone can do well if they are committed to their work and are determined to put effort in to succeed.
A career in care can be really rewarding. If you think you've got what it takes to support people through homecare, and you live in or around Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire or East Sussex, contact your nearest branch to find out about available opportunities.