Tips on joining the care sector with little to no experience

21 – 27 February is You Can Care Week – a week dedicated specially to raise awareness about the incredible people working in the care sector, and to encourage others to join. But, as with trying all new things, you may be scared of joining a new industry, especially if you don’t have much, or any, experience.

Well, we’ve got good news for you. Not everyone at Happy Futures came to us with fancy qualifications and loads of experience – our very own Registered Manager Emily O’Callaghan joined the team with almost none. So, to encourage you to take that leap of faith and join the care sector, here is her success story.

Happy Futures: You didn’t work in care before you came to Happy Futures, right?

Emily O’Callaghan: For a year or so before I came to Happy Futures I worked in a care home, but before that I went to university because I wanted to be a teacher, so I did my degree in education and early childhood studies. I had no thought of wanting to work in the care sector. I eventually got into care on a personal level when my grandad became poorly and I helped to look after him, and I just fell in love with it.

HF: So after caring for your grandfather, what made you decide to give a formal career in care a go?

EO: After looking after my grandfather I thought I could do care as a career, so I started with elderly care where I looked after people with Dementia, helping them with personal care and things like shopping. After a while I decided I still wanted to work in care, but I wanted a bit of a challenge, so I joined the team at Happy Futures and started working more with people with learning disabilities, challenging behaviours and autism. I feel since then I have really found what I was meant to do in this life and that working in care is just part of me.

HF: What has been the biggest lesson you have learned since you started working in care?

EO: Every day is different. You can’t work in care and think you can come into work predicting what you day is going to look like. Of course you might have a plan of what you would like to do that day or what you would like to see an individual achieve, but you must always keep an open mind and remember that there are other things that can happen and no single day will be the same as the last. I think that is why I enjoy working in care so much because every day is not the same and there are just so many things that can happen in one day.

HF: What is the one thing that you absolutely love about working in care?

EO: Seeing people progress and seeing them happy. I think seeing the smiles on the individuals’ faces, and popping in and seeing them do different things just really warms my heart to see.

HF: You have gone from working as a Support Worker to being our Registered Manager. Talk us through the progression you have found at Happy Futures and what that has been like for you.

EO: I think my dedication is what has brough me to this point and into this position. Also my willingness to learn and my want and passion to make a difference to people’s lives and give them that quality of life. When I moved up from a Support Worker into a Team Leader role, I started to realize not just the influence I could have on the individuals we support, but also on other staff. Having that relationship with staff and helping them to progress has been very rewarding for me. I like to put in a lot of time for the individuals and staff and I feel that my dedication and willingness to go the extra mile has helped me to where I am now. I am also passionate about trying new ideas and I am not afraid of failing, as long as I can learn from those mistakes and do it better next time.

HF: As our Registered Manager you often help during interviews. What kind of personality traits do you look for in people who apply, especially if you want to join the care sector but they don’t have any experience or qualifications?

EO: Having the willingness to learn is a big one. A lot of people who have such caring hearts, and that is really all you need. Having a caring heart, having the genuine want to make people’s lives better and wanting to learn and do new things is all you need. I’m a very big believer in giving people a chance, and everyone needs to start somewhere, so if you are outgoing, bubbly, have a willingness to learn and you have an interest in care, I think you have all you need. I also really value life experience, for instance where people have supported or cared for family members or friends. Although it was not in a formal career, that caring counts just as much and it shows a lot about a person. If you are passionate, I am willing to give you a chance, as I was lucky enough that someone took a chance on me.

“Working in care is a very selfless thing. You are dedicating your life and your time to look after and support other people to improve their quality of life. “

Emily O’Callaghan

HF: What is the biggest hurdle that is stopping people from staring a new career in care?

EO: In care there is a lot of responsibility. As a Support Worker you are basically responsible for someone’s life. You support them with medication, family, daily activities, personal care and so on. People may be nervous about taking on these responsibilities and that’s stopping them from taking that leap and coming into the care sector. But if you work for a company like Happy Futures, you don’t have to worry about that. There is so much training and support and we make sure that we all share that responsibility.

HF: What advice do you have for someone considering a career in care if they don’t have any experience?

EO: If you are considering it, go for it. To even have that thought in your mind means you have a caring heart and the right kind of personality for the job. Set your fears and worries aside, and apply for a role. We are so supportive and welcome people who are ready to learn and try something new. Give it a try, as you might just find the perfect career for you doing something that you love, while helping other people. If you are anything like me, you will just fall in love with it!

If you are ready to give a career in social care a go, please apply through any of these channels:

After completing her BA Honours degree in Education and Early Childhood Studies from the Liverpool Hope University in 2014, Emily entered the Health and Social Care Sector workforce in 2015, working first as a Care Assistant and then as a Support Worker in a residential service supporting individuals with learning disabilities. In November 2016 Emily joined the Happy Futures team as a Support Worker and was promoted to a Team Leader in February 2018. In August 2019 Emily took on the new role of Assistant Manager, where her main responsibilities included assisting the Registered Manager and Operations Manager with tasks that require completion, completing medication MAR charts and managing Team Leaders. In October 2020, Emily became a PBS Active Response Team Manager while completing her Positive Behavioural Support Professional Certificate from NHS Wales. She worked closely alongside the Head of Positive Behaviour Support and was responsible for the day-to-day delivery of Positive Behaviour Support. In July 2021, Emily took on the role of Registered Manager where she is responsible for ensuring compliance with the CQC and Local Authority guidance. Emily provides leadership to all staff in order to deliver the highest quality of support within a safe working and living environment. Emily delivers training, completes audits and monitors the support the individuals receive to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect.

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