Barbara Allan - Team Leader at Varis Court, Forres
I have always enjoyed caring for older people, so having the opportunity to call Varis Court my workplace is a real privilege. My career has always been in the care sector and being part of a service provider like Hanover is really rewarding.
I have worked at Hanover for 20 years and I am now a Team Leader at one of the most modern housing with care developments in Scotland. Every day is different and being able to encourage residents to lead more active and independent lives is really gratifying.
That’s not to say that it’s all down to the individual though, working in housing with care means that you are part of a team and we have a fantastic group of people at Varis Court.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we realised just how important teamwork would be to get through the first and second lockdowns. We had to make significant changes to our routines and ensure that strict hygiene measures were in place. There were some times when we experienced staff shortages, but we worked together and helped each other.
Mental health and wellbeing became a major focus for us all, but the camaraderie and resilience of our team really showed during those first months of the lockdown and we knew it was important to keep our morale high.
To keep spirits up we took part in team quizzes and visited our residents in fancy dress. These small actions would make a big difference to our own wellbeing and the mental health of the people we were supporting.
Twelve months on and there is a great deal of optimism at the development, all staff and residents have been offered the first dose of the vaccine and a testing programme has also been introduced. While there is still so much hard work to do, it feels like there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
People often ask me what it takes to work in a caring role - no matter what the level, housing with care is not so much a job but a vocation. If you have the mind-set to be compassionate, caring and empathetic to others then you really can make a difference.
To be a caring professional you have to treat everyone with kindness, respect and have the right attitude. In essence, you should be prepared to treat others in the same way that you want to be treated.
My primary goal has always been to help others and that was what drove me to start in housing with care. To succeed in care, you also need the desire to learn new things and I have also been very fortunate to progress in my career. As an employer,
Hanover has been very supportive, giving me opportunities to develop new skills through learning and development.
In recent months I have completed a Professional Development Award (PDA) in supervision as well as manual handling and medication courses. I am so grateful to be able to develop my skills and I want to do another PDA course in medication or an SVQ4 in health and social care.
Working in a caring profession can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable jobs you can do, but you need to have the right attributes to support others.
Caring roles are often a personal choice and you need to have patience, good communication skills and want to be part of a team. Above all, caring for others means showing compassion and empathy to those who need your support.