Career change: from retail to care – Interview with PA visiting home carer Ali

Ali PA Carer Ashridge Home Care

Ali is one of many who have decided to join the social care workforce following a career in a different industry (Retail).

Making a difference to someone’s day can be a truly rewarding career. There can be challenges at times, but the personal fulfilment is unrivalled. Ashridge Home Care are incredibly pleased that Ali decided to join the team.

In this interview, we asked Ali a few questions about her transition from Retail to Social Care, work-life balance and what it’s actually like to be a visiting home carer at Ashridge.

How did you come across Ashridge Home Care?

I used to run the village shop and post office in Speen (Buckinghamshire) so I’d heard of them through customers at the shop who’d used the company.

Why did you apply to become a carer?

I saw a Facebook advert at just the right time.  When I got pregnant, I sold the shop business and had baby and spent my time being a Mum. I saw the online advert at a time when I was considering my options to return to the work place so I made an enquiry to see what the role entailed.

Have you worked in the care sector before?

No, but that was not a problem. My role is more as companionship carer than looking after medical needs.   Ashridge matched me with a client who has day care three days a week.  So, I visit my client three days a week for a couple of hours a time. I also work flexibly from home doing administrative work for my client such as making appointments and speaking with her GP. I can do that whilst I am at home with the baby. Hence the title PA carer.

How did Ashridge help prepare you for your new role?

Due to covid restrictions I ended up doing most of my training remotely.  I contracted covid 2 weeks prior to starting so couldn’t attend the face to face training sessions that had been arranged. Ashridge Home Care was very flexible.  When I couldn’t attend the office training they arranged for me to take part online via zoom.  They have a fantastic online training system so I was able to go through the modules and ask any questions afterwards. Being a carer also involves lots of learning on the job as you can’t learn everything from a textbook but I can always call or whatsapp them and they are very responsive.

How do you combine being a Mum with working?

It’s the perfect flexible role being a visiting carer.  My daughter in in nursery for a few hours a day so I can visit my client then and Ashridge was flexible enough to let me make up other hours doing administrative duties for my client from my own home.  It’s turned out to be the perfect job and it has eased me back into work after having a baby really nicely.

Would you recommend being a part time visiting carer to others?

100%.  A lot of people are put off care work as they think it’s personal care but there are a lot of roles that are more companionship and administrative. It enables someone who needs help to stay at home knowing there is someone coming to visit them.  It offers friendship and safety.  The pay and flexibility are good and I am learning loads.  I am lined up for some dementia specific training and I’ve been offered lots of other training choices so there is real career progression if you want it.

What do you like best about being a visiting carer?

Like in retail you never quite know what is going to happen next. I like the variety.  Speen has an elderly population I loved people popping in simply to brighten up their day.  I found that I’d often be helping someone, for example helping them with their mobile phone, and found that very rewarding.  Being a carer is very similar and equally rewarding.

I like the little things that make the big difference to people.  In care work having a conversation with someone living alone, simply talking about news headlines, is a big deal for them and I think it’s nice to do those things.

Have you ever thought about becoming a visiting home carer? We’re always looking for friendly and enthusiastic people to help support older people to live life to the full. Our roles are well paid, flexible and are available across the South East of England.