David Grayson – welder to care home manager
Each month we profile a care professional who has come into the sector after a career change and who demonstrates that it really is never too late to care! This month we feature David Grayson who spent his early career as a welder on the railways and is now is now Registered Manager at Pathway Care Group
Working in care was the furthest thing from my mind as a youngster – in fact in my early working life, other than homes for the elderly, I didn’t even know it existed as a career option.
I can vividly remember leaving school on the Friday and starting my apprenticeship on the Monday with British Rail at Shildon Wagon works in Co Durham. Over 2000 men working together in an industrial environment was quite an experience, always eventful and often frightening. On reflection however, it laid the foundations of my understanding of diversity and how to accept the opinions of others – it was that or you would find yourself welded inside a coal wagon for the day!
I spent 13 years as a plater/welder with British Rail and following the privatisation of many national companies and the subsequent closures that dogged industry in the 1980’s, at the age of 19 (I was still an apprentice) I was transferred away from home to South Yorkshire. Following yet another closure I was sent back to my native North East in 1986.
Coming into care
Fast forward to 1999 – whilst working in a local factory, I was fortunate enough to have a discussion with a colleague who was working relief in a residential children’s home. I was intrigued by what he was telling me and how rewarding it was working with children and young people. This was a defining moment for me, as at 34 for the first time in my working life and with very limited knowledge I knew that this was something that I had to do.
I was very fortunate to be successful and get the first post that I applied for. I spent ten very happy years working for a private, family-run service. During this time, I worked alongside and learnt from some amazing people and equally some amazing young people. It didn’t take long for me to realise that this career move was the best thing I could possibly have chosen.
I guess that the management saw something in me. I was given a senior role within the service and I was mentored and actively encouraged to further develop my knowledge at every opportunity, which culminated in me achieving the Registered Managers award in 2009.
Reflecting now on my move into management in 2012, I realise that it was a baptism of fire, but one that has served me well. The home was judged inadequate in all areas only 4 days into my induction -there was a huge rebuilding process required. I learned so much about myself and the resilience of the team during this period and their commitment to improving the outcomes for the young people that we support.
7 years on and most of the staff team are still together, the home is unrecognisable from the one I entered back then. I am immensely proud of the team, they have supported me from the day that I arrived and together we have consistently raised the standards of care practices within the home.
In 2018 the service was shortlisted for the Laing Buisson children’s services award and I was immensely proud to be the regional winner at the Great British Care Awards in the registered manager of the year category. I am quick to stress that these accolades are a reflection of the whole team and the fantastic care they provide to the young people we support.