What it's really like working in care, in a specialist dementia care home
Since joining the team 6 years ago, Ramona has progressed to Senior Care Assistant at our St George's Care Home. She recently spoke to us about her career journey and told us how her experience working in a specialist dementia care home is different.
What made you originally go into care?
If I’m honest, it wasn’t a career that I necessarily sought out from the beginning. When I was younger, I always wanted to be a doctor. I loved the idea of working in a hospital and helping people. However, I ended up taking a different path and actually studied to be an Engineer. When I first moved to London, I worked in a cleaning role just while I figured out what I wanted to do next. We actually ended up moving to the Surrey area and that’s when I applied to work at St George’s as a Care Assistant. I knew that I wanted to help other people, but I didn’t really know if it was going to be the right career move for me. Well, 6 years later, I’m still here and I couldn’t imagine doing anything different! I worked in the Care Assistant role for 3 years before progressing to Senior Care Assistant and I’ve now worked in this role for the last 3 years.
Did you have preconceptions about working in care before you started?
I don’t think I had any preconceptions to be honest. I didn’t really think about what it would be like I just knew that I wanted to help people. In Romania we take care of our grandparents and the elderly at home so, although I didn’t have work experience with the elderly, it’s something that I grew up around personally.
How have you found the support at Bupa with training, development and progression opportunities?
There are a lot of training and development opportunities here. Obviously, the past year and a half has been a little different due to COVID, but we’ve still done training online and there’s loads of courses available if you want to develop your skills in other areas. My manager is really supportive of us completing training – if there’s anything we’re interested in, we can speak to him, and he’ll help us to find a relevant course.
St George’s is a specialist dementia care home – how is it different working here compared to other care settings?
It can be challenging, even for people that have worked in another care setting before. Some residents can be verbally abusive and that can be a scary thing to manage when you first start. You have to learn not to take anything personally and remember that it’s not about you. Underneath that behaviour is a person that needs support who maybe can’t express their feelings in a different way. I think a big thing is also leaning on your colleagues for support. We’re all one team and we’re there to help each other. Leaving because it’s more challenging than you thought is the easy option but staying and learning to develop the skills needed to manage those situations will really show you the rewarding side of the role.
There’s nothing quite like those moments when you get something back from your residents. In other care homes, residents might give you feedback all the time because they have the capacity to do so. But that can’t always happen for residents living with dementia. We have some residents that will maybe say 1 or 2 words in a year. There have been times that I’ve had to deal with really challenging behaviour from these residents, but then afterwards, they’ve turned to me and said thank you and I’ve been so taken aback. It seems like something small to be excited about but it’s actually a huge thing for those residents. Just them saying thank you means everything, and you forget everything else that’s happened. It’s such a rewarding feeling.
Do you have a favourite memory from your time in care?
My favourite time of year in the care home is Christmas! I have so many amazing memories from this time of year that I can’t single out one! Every Christmas day for the last 6 years I’ve worked because I wanted to. I spend most of my time at the care home with our residents and my colleagues, so it feels like spending Christmas at home for me and we always have such a brilliant time.
What’s your favourite thing about working in care?
Every day is a challenge, and every day is different. I could never get bored working in care! From nurses to managers, I get to learn from other professionals every day, so I always feel like I’m developing. I also like figuring out how to help someone – sometimes residents can’t tell me how they feel as they cannot express themselves so developing different ways to approach certain residents and figuring out the best approach is something that I really enjoy. When you find the correct approach, it just feels so rewarding. I can’t wait to see what the future in care holds for me.
Has Ramona got you thinking about a career in care? Register your details below and one of our team will get in touch to discuss further.