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Changing perceptions of careers in adult social care

This feature in our careers series profiles a clinical care supervisor who is changing perceptions of the sector 

Adult social care is in crisis with nearly half of care workers leaving within one year of starting. Public perceptions of limited opportunities for career progression in the sector are cited as a barrier to recruitment. This article in our careers series profiles a clinical care supervisor in a nursing home who is working hard to change those perceptions


Clinical care supervisor Sherry Creighton (right): 'I need to know I've done my best for residents'.
​​​​​Picture: Stephen Shepherd

A report by the House of Commons communities and local government select committee published last year warned that nearly half of care staff in adult social care in England leave their jobs within one year of starting.

The four-month inquiry also raised concerns about lack of training, with more than a quarter of workers stating they had received no dementia training.

A National Audit Office report published in February this year stated the government was not doing enough to support the development of a sustainable social care workforce. It warned that the widespread public perception that care work offers ‘limited opportunities for career progression’ is a barrier to recruitment.

Step out of your comfort zone


Picture: Stephen Shepherd

Sherry Creighton, a clinical care supervisor (CCS) in a care home, wants to change the perception of adult social care by encouraging care workers to step out of their comfort zone.

48%

of care workers leave their jobs within a year of starting

(Source: House of Commons communities and local government select committee)

‘My daughter went to work at a dementia residential home as a carer and asked me to work there too. I had an interview, and have been working in the sector ever since. That was more than a decade ago,’ she says.

‘At Moreton Hill Care Centre, a residential home in Stroud, Gloucestershire, I was promoted to senior healthcare assistant and started NVQ training at levels two and three. My manager asked if I would become a moving and handling trainer.

‘It is usually a nurse who does the training, but the nurse who was going to do it left the home and I knew it would be a good role for me. I went on a six-week course at a local college and returned to the home, training the carers and nurses on moving and handling updates.

‘It was difficult. It was out of my comfort zone and the nurses had more experience than me, but they were receptive and once I got over the barrier of fear, I felt my confidence had been boosted. I did a further course, which enabled me to teach at a more intensive level.’

Ms Creighton moved jobs to The Hollies care home in Dursley, Gloucestershire, five years ago. The residents at The Hollies have a wide range of health and mobility conditions and there are also non-residents who stay for respite care.

Two and a half years ago Ms Creighton became one of six CCSs at The Hollies.

Enhancing communication and providing leadership

The CCS role was created at The Hollies to provide leadership to healthcare assistants and enhance nurse and care worker communication.

27%

of care workers receive no dementia training

(Source: House of Commons communities and local government select committee)

Ms Creighton says: ‘I have a bit more responsibility for staff. For example, we have a morning handover from night staff and if there's been a problem overnight with staff and I can resolve the issue I will. If there is a serious problem I would report it to the nurse. I’m also the nurse's first port of call.

‘We try to have a monthly meeting of the CCSs so we can raise standards, put together new ideas and motivate staff.’

Ms Creighton has become more involved with end of life care at The Hollies since taking an Open University course on death and dying. She has also taken courses to improve her knowledge about communication, talking with relatives and advance care planning and shared that learning with care staff.

‘Sometimes residents will tell care staff rather than nurses if they are feeling unwell, so we have given them training on communication, and the careful wording they need to use around end of life issues,’ she says.

‘I had an extra two weeks with him because I knew he would get the best care'

Ms Creighton’s mother has Alzheimer’s disease and her father, who had dementia, spent the last two weeks of his life in the home where she works.


Sherry Creighton: 'I was pushed to do more and it boosted my self-esteem'. Picture: Stephen Shepherd

‘I had an extra two weeks with him because I knew he would get the best care,’ she says.

‘My family situation has allowed me to empathise even more with residents and relatives. You can use your experiences to help you care.

The turnover rate for nurses working in social care is 36%

(Source: House of Commons communities and local government select committee)

‘The residents are like friends and I need to know I’ve done my best for them.’

Ms Creighton empathises with how difficult it can be for care staff who do not have the support of their employers to develop their careers that she has had. She wants to develop further and encourages staff to take up opportunities on offer.

‘I am now thinking of doing an assistant practitioner’s course. When we have interviews or induction days, I always say to care staff that the home will promote them in what they want to do.

‘I was pushed to do more and it boosted my self-esteem.’

 

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