"A sense of satisfaction": Discovering a second career as a care worker

Published: 06/07/2017

Home support worker Paul Read talks about his experiences as an older care worker and explains why the sector needs more men. 

When Paul Read was made redundant at 49 after working as a scaffolder for two decades, he didn’t expect to find a fulfilling career in the care sector.

“It was a massive change from scaffolding, but I really find the job enjoyable. It’s varied, you’re out talking to people and there’s a sense of satisfaction,” explained Paul, who is a home support worker at Bluebird Care Hull and Beverley.

“I’d say if there’s blokes out there that’s looking for a job where they can be proud of themselves, then be a carer. There’s real fulfilment in helping other people and there aren’t enough male care workers.”

After Paul, 56, lost his job he encountered a lot of barriers to finding new work – in fact it was four and a half years before he would re-enter the job market.

Paul’s situation wasn’t uncommon: more than a million over-50s have been forced into long term unemployment because of ageism, according to a report by the Prince of Wale’s charity Business in the Community.

Depression began to set in as Paul sent out job application after job application.

“It was hard because you start to feel worthless,” said Paul.

“I was in my 50s and people just didn’t want to employ me. They’d be great on the phone when I called to ask for an application form, then as soon as they asked my age I could tell by the tone of their voice they weren’t interested.”

Finally, after receiving just six replies from 160 job applications, two and a half years ago Paul successfully applied to Bluebird Care Hull and Beverley for a care worker’s position.

Bluebird Care understood that older people often bring skills valuable to care work, explained Paul, because of their life experience and social awareness.

While lugging scaffolding poles up buildings may seem a long way from the duties of a care worker – which can include tasks such as washing pots, cleaning, preparing a meal, administering medication or assisting with personal hygiene – the sense of humour and solidarity Paul developed on the building sites is an essential part of his care work.

“People don’t want feeling sorry for. They want you to go in there and treat them as normal: smile, laugh, have a joke and a conversation. You do form a bond if you’re seeing someone for a long period, you build up a relationship,” said Paul.

“Of course making sure that everything you have to do is done properly is vital, but for me walking out of a call and knowing I’ve made the client smile or laugh, that’s the thing that really gives me a sense of pride.”