Discovering the challenging world of Social Care

22nd May 2015

Discovering the challenging world of Social Care

Blog by Robyn Wedderburn, HR Director

Applying for a role with FitzRoy was interesting for many reasons, not least being interviewed by the people we support. This was a powerful experience, and I had to think hard about the language I use and the assumptions I make. My new role at FitzRoy has kicked open a door onto a rather hidden world, and six months later, new to social care, my mind is reeling.

It’s a family affair

My privilege and pleasure in taking this role has been meeting the people FitzRoy support, and our staff, and discovering the world of social care; one many of us only come across when a relative or loved one needs it.

Every FitzRoy service is unique, as is every person, but they all share a family feel. I deliberately choose the word ‘family’ as I have felt the same care, concern and support in FitzRoy services you experience in any great family unit. I also find myself using the word ‘love’ a lot because I’ve felt a lot of love for humanity in the services; it seems to be the petrol in the engine.

As a parent myself, I’m guessing this love and sense of family comes from a very simple place, a desire to really try and help people live the life they choose. As one Service Manager said to me “When mum and dad have died and you need to live in a supportive environment, you’re probably looking for somewhere as close to a family environment as possible.”

There is a risk of too much intensity, and it can be hard to manage the fine line between care and friendship, which is why integrity in this work is so important. The integrity of the people who work for FitzRoy is incredible, and it seems to be driven by a genuine love of their work – not because a policy document or a piece of paper dictates it.

Fun is also essential, and I’ve found it everywhere. I walked into cake and karaoke on my first service visit; The Rural Skills project were having a great time with chickens and tomatoes (separately); and I’ve never seen so much glitter at the all singing all dancing production, Movie Extravaganza, by FitzRoy’s On Track service.

The picture is not completely rosy

Whilst I’ve met many people who view their jobs as a vocation, it seems this vocation is under threat. Despite being struck by the length of time people stay with FitzRoy, finding new people to join us is hard. The sector is struggling with recruitment, and reading around the edges, we seem to be suffering from a poor image – a low paid sector with few prospects.

I like to listen, that’s what working in HR is all about. I can’t help people if I don’t listen, and all organisations in this sector need to listen to the negative things being said about working in social care. By doing this we can make a start in tackling the poor image social care work has. We can start showing what a fulfilling, rewarding, and worthwhile career it is for so many.

This is an important challenge to the whole sector, but also to schools, careers’ advisors, the media, and anyone else who influences public opinion. If we don’t rise to this challenge we risk losing the unique care and love so necessary to many people’s lives.