From Hair to Care? Why it’s Never too Late to Start a Career in Care.
If you are thinking of switching career and are considering working in Care, take inspiration from our Make a Difference Award winning carer, Elaine Frame, Archers Court, who says, “it’s never too late to think about learning something new.”
If you’re thinking of switching career and are considering working in Care, take inspiration from our Make a Difference Award winning carer, Elaine Frame, Archers Court, who says, “it’s never too late to think about learning something new.”
Realising that Lockdown had got the better of her hairdressing career, Elaine, 52, Dementia Support Worker, Reconnect Community, Archers Court, started to consider a new career as a carer. “With people starting to cut their own hair in lockdown and Covid rules meaning hairdressers were unable to work face-to-face with clients, I really had to consider my options as I simply wasn’t getting enough work and needed to earn more money to help support my family,” says Elaine.
Elaine had been working for Archers Court in Sunderland for 14 years as the Home’s weekly hairdresser and loved doing their hair and sitting down to chat with all the elderly people there. “They loved to pour their hearts out to me, especially during the pandemic, and I felt so much joy in helping them to feel good about themselves and have a friendly face to talk to,” she says.
When she saw a vacancy for staff at the home, Elaine began to think that a career in care could be the answer to her work needs and give her the job satisfaction she was looking for. Elaine had been caring for her father at home and when he sadly passed away, she felt that she needed a new opportunity to care for someone as she really missed the sense of achievement that came with being a primary carer. “My children are grown-up now and when my father passed away, I still felt the desire to care for others as it’s something that comes naturally to me,” she added.
Elaine started her new job at Archers Court in March this year and now works in the home’s specialist Dementia community – Reconnect. Here she supports a steadily growing group of people who have experienced long periods of distress, so significant that they have required hospital care in many cases, in what is a vital service for the Sunderland area. Plus she is still able to work in the Archers Court Hair Salon once a week doing the hairdressing she loves too.
On a typical day, Elaine and her co-workers help those living in the Reconnect community to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives. As well as encouraging those in the community to express themselves by having fun, Elaine acknowledges that it is essential to closely observe their non-verbal communications. Elaine says, “They like to get involved in baking, playing games, or even helping with day to day tasks such cleaning or folding the laundry. Some of the gents are keen singers – one in particular loves the Beatles, so we sing lots of Beatles songs which gets everyone smiling. We organise all their meals and general care – but we find that some of our Reconnect people like to help with cleaning the dishes. It gives them a sense of normality and independence”.
“I consider myself like a friend to them. Some days can be hard – especially if someone is feeling frustrated. Dementia can heighten people’s frustration and it is important to recognise this. One day, one gentleman was quite cranky and distressed, so I decided to take him out in the garden to get some fresh air and pick some flowers. It completely changed his mood, and I went home feeling that I had done a good job and really turned his day around.”
Since she began at Archers Court, Elaine has enjoyed inspiring and mentoring other staff if they have asked for additional support. Her sunny personality and professional, caring approach have seen her win this month’s Archers Court Make a Difference Award – a testament to her hard work and dedication to her new career.
“If I could advise anyone thinking of switching their career to working in care, I’d say go for it. If you have it in you to be a caring, kind person who enjoys making a difference to someone’s day it’s the best job. Age has nothing to do with it. You can be any age and get started in care. If you are not happy in your job, it’s a great to have options to start again. With my father passing away, it gave me the opportunity to begin a new career for me.
“Don’t get me wrong, it can be hard work and I do work long shifts from 8am to 8pm, but I live locally and feel I get to spend time with my family too so it’s a good balance. I did know a bit about what to expect, having worked in the home as a hairdresser for so long. I absolutely love it and was blown away to win the award. I didn’t really think I was doing anything special, just doing my job. It was so lovely to be recognised by the team. Everyone works hard and it’s the little things like this that the home does for us which gives us a nice boost.”
When she’s not working, Elaine loves to spend time with her family and French Bulldog, Ernie – who sounds as if he has the same aptitude for care as his owner. “He loves nothing more than giving kisses to us if we are on the sofa. He’s even been into the home so the residents can pet him which was lovely – especially for those that used to have a pet themselves. He came in and started performing tricks for everyone – they loved it – so did he, as he got lots of treats!”