Name: Bryony Gilbert
Degree and university: 2.1 BA HONS Geography and Sociology. University College Plymouth St Mark and St John (Marjons)
Job title: Graduate Management Trainee in Adult Social Care through National Skills Academy for Social Care.
What do you actually do?
I am participating in the National Skills Academy for Social Care’s graduate trainee scheme. Through the scheme I was placed with a social care organisation, and was then fortunate enough to secure a secondment as acting deputy manager of a residential home. This opportunity has provided me with invaluable management experience in a direct-care setting which is challenging and stimulating. For example one day could consist of interviewing potential staff members, carrying out assessments at the local hospitals and undergoing internal audits. On another day I could be helping the care staff with direct resident care due to staff absence.
Why did you decide to go into this sector?
During the second year of my degree I realised I wanted to have a career in social care but was unsure of which area. I started volunteering with a number of organisations before gaining employment as a support worker for individuals with Learning Disabilities towards the end of my third year. When I saw the graduate scheme advertised I decided to apply as I felt it would be a step in the right direction for my career and provide me with an accurate insight into adult social care, enabling me to ascertain which aspect of social care I would like to focus on.
How did you find out about your particular course?
I saw the course advertised on the internet (Prospects website).
Would you undertake further training to further your career?
As part of the scheme we are currently studying towards an ILM qualification through the National Skills Academy and I have also been able to undertake a number of training courses with my host organisation. I would not rule out the option of studying towards a Masters degree in the future. However after my placement year is finished I hope to secure full time employment and undertake more vocational courses in adult social care.
What do you like most about what you do and are there any downsides?
The best thing about my job is that I can say I have made a difference, no matter how big or small to someone’s life every day. I also enjoy the fact that it’s never dull; the plan for the day can change instantly depending on what issues crop up throughout the day. In contrast to this the emotional attachment that comes with the job can be quite hard. When working in care for the elderly, there are obviously upsetting moments, however remembering that you are providing individuals with good quality care at the end of their life can counter balance this.
What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to make a success of what you do?
You have to be a ‘people person’ as you are dealing with residents and their families as well as staff and outside agencies; excellent communication skills are vital. Empathy and compassion are essential and it is imperative that you are passionate about providing a truly caring service for people who are no longer able to live in their own home. Other important strengths are the ability to work as part of a team and to be flexible and prepared to ‘muck in’, in addition to having the ability to work under pressure and to be multi-skilled.
What advice would you give graduates wishing to come into this sector?
I feel that to be able to manage a direct care setting you have to be hands on and involved in the care provision. I would therefore advise graduates who wish to pursue a career in social care to get some full hands-on experience as this will help them with their careers in the long term. I would also like to advise anyone entering this sector that it is by no means a 9-5 job. Residents require care 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. Finally I would suggest to anyone contemplating a career in this sector to go for it; I would say this is one of the most rewarding jobs you could find.