A young woman has spoken movingly about how landing her “dream job” at a care home has been a life-changing experience.
Paige Taylor, 22, told her story to Julie Morgan AM, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, when she visited the Pendine Park Care Organisation in Wrexham.
According to Paige, her life was “a bit chaotic” before she signed up for the Pendine Step into Care programme which was run at Pendine Park in partnership with the Prince’s Trust.
As an 18-year-old, she completed the three-week course which included a week’s work experience at Pendine’s Highfield House care home and “absolutely loved it”.
As a result, she successfully applied for a full-time job as a care practitioner and has been working happily at Highfield ever since.
She was one of 312 participants who’ve take part in employability programmes run at Pendine Park over the past five years. Half of them have found jobs as a result of the course, with 66 of them starting new careers in care.
The award-winning organisation runs eight care homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon and employs more than 800 people.
Paige, from Wrexham, met the Deputy Minister when she visited Pendine’s new headquarters and training academy at Bromfield House on Wrexham Technology Park.
She told the AM: “I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was aimlessly wandering around Job Centres and getting nowhere. My life was a bit chaotic in truth. But I saw an advert for the Princes Trust’s Get into Care programme which was run at Pendine Park and I thought I’d give it a go.
“I was thrilled when I got my dream job at the end of the course and I’ve now completed my Level 2 and 3 Health and Social Care qualifications. It’s made me more mature and I’ve even just bought my own house.”
She added: “I want to keep going and progress up the care career ladder, who knows where I will end up.
“Starting a career in care at Pendine Park has been amazing; the best thing is getting to know residents and engaging with them. It’s so important to help them remain as independent as possible.”
Ioan Wright, 25, from Rhos also, is another successful graduate of the Step into Care Programme.
He said: “Like Paige I was going nowhere and stuck in a cycle of needing experience to get a job but not being able to get a job as I had no experience.
“I signed up for the scheme and loved it right from the start. That was back in 2014 and, although I wasn’t successful straight away after my interview, I got a job offer for Hillbury House Care Home soon after.”
“I love it and get a real sense of fulfilment. I feel I’m making a real difference.
“I also feel I’ve forged a career in care although my ambition is to move more to the clinical side of things. But it’s been Pendine Park Care Organisation that has given me an opportunity to progress.”
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “Of those taking part in the scheme we have conversion rate of more than 50 per cent into employment. We are also working with other organisations such colleges and universities.
“We are very proud of the training and personal development programmes we have created. It is something we have been doing for more than 20 years so we can provide high quality care which is tailored to care homes rather than an acute setting, with the emphasis on the long-term wellbeing of our residents and staff.
“It’s been one of the most successful schemes of its type in the past 10 years and a crucial element has been our use of the arts as part of our training and enrichment programme.
“In addition to the Prince’s Trust, we have worked with the likes of Communities First and Job Centre Plus to provide employment opportunities so that young people struggling to find work can have a fulfilling and worthwhile career in social care.”
He added: “I was also pleased to be able to explain to Julie Morgan AM how we aim to enrich the lives of our residents through the arts. My wife Gill and I are passionate about using the arts to improve the well- being of our residents and staff.
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care, Julie Morgan said: “The social care sector can provide a rewarding career and I’m pleased to hear the positive experience Paige and Ioan have had.
“We need more people like Paige and Ioan to think about a career in social care which offers a range of opportunities.
“My visit to Pendine Park highlighted the work care providers are doing to encourage more people into the sector and I would like to thank them for inspiring the next generation to join the profession.”