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Realising the dream of making a difference

Nicky spent 17 years working in an office, helping customers and engineers. She had always assumed this was her calling, until one day a phone call changed her life. One day Nicky received a call from an elderly lady who was crying and said she needed help. The lady had some financial problems, and Nicky found herself organising payment plans, budgets, finding a way to help her. “That call changed my life!” remembers Nicky, “I realised at the end of the call that I didn’t want to work in an office. I wanted a job where I could get out there and really make a difference in people’s lives.”

Nicky joined a health care provider as a support worker, where she supported elderly and physically disabled people. Unfortunately, it was a very physical job with lots of lifting, which impacted on her health. “I was devastated, and pursued another career path, starting a business of my own selling antiques. But it wasn’t enough for me, I knew what I wanted to do and so when I saw that Lifeways were looking for support staff I applied straight away. I didn’t have any experience of working with people with learning disabilities, but my interview was fantastic, they made me feel really comfortable and explained that I had really good transferable skills. I was offered a job there and then.”

Nicky worked as a support worker for a year and then one of the team leaders she worked with needed extra help and she stepped up to help out. “The manager noticed and asked me to apply for a team leader role. I had never thought about moving up, but she said I showed great promise and really good leadership skills. That was four years ago and I absolutely love my job, the people we support are amazing and so are my staff team.

My role as a Team Leader is a really interesting mix of paperwork, support and management. I’m involved in putting together rotas, supervision meetings, appraisals, site checks, medication, finance and communications. I encourage my team to strive for bigger and better things, not just for the people we support but also themselves as well. I like to make sure everyone gets a chance to do everything to stretch themselves and make sure they all get the opportunity to shine. Some parts of the job can be very challenging, but it’s so fulfilling and rewarding.

Most of the people I work with are independent out in the community, so the days are very varied and the work is always different. I love the diversity of working with people with different abilities and working alongside people’s families and other care professionals.

I love training and I’m always learning from the people I support. I’ve achieved my NVQ Level 3 training and I am now looking to study my Level 4. I get lots of support from all the managers, they are always at the end of a phone no matter what I need. I have a fantastic network of people that I can turn to for advice and help. I love this job, it gives me so much and I get to be part of the lives of the people we support which is such a wonderful privilege.”

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