John Preston – From architecture to care
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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 meet John Preston, maintenance worker at Four Seasons Health Care’s Pennine Lodge. John joined the sector later in life as a maintenance worker, going above and beyond to promote wellbeing and independence for the residents.
I grew up in Carlisle and for almost 40 years I worked across the building and manufacturing industry. Now at 59, I work in maintenance at Pennine Lodge Care Home and it’s by far the best and most rewarding job I’ve ever had.
When I left school at 16 to become an architectural technician, I never would have guessed that 43 years later I would be working in social care. I can honestly say that moving into the care profession has been the best decision I have ever made.
People often ask me why I changed careers. I handed in my notice after my wife told me that Pennine Lodge, where she works, was looking for someone to be responsible for the maintenance of the home.
When I applied, I wasn’t entirely sure what the role would entail but I decided to take the plunge nevertheless. I was given a comprehensive handover by my predecessor who taught me the ropes and showed me how I could apply my knowledge and experience to social care.
I’m so pleased that I took the job because the role has evolved to be so much more than just acting as the home’s caretaker.
The home’s activity organisers often ask me to help with entertaining the residents and taking them out on day trips. In fact, one of the best days I’ve ever had was when we took the residents on a ferry trip on the nearby lake. I will never forget the look on their faces. It was a lovely feeling knowing that I had made such a positive impact on their lives.
I’ve also been able to bring my hobbies to the role. As a keen golfer, I wanted to give the residents the opportunity to share my interest. I adapted the home’s garden to allow for a small golf course. I fitted the poles with cups to catch the ball to save residents from having to bend down. It’s great that something so simple has made such a difference to their lives.
When I’m asked what my favourite thing about my job is, I say that I love everything about it. When I get home in the evenings, I don’t even feel like I’ve been to work. We’ve created a very cheery and positive atmosphere and staff morale in the home is incredibly high. I often say to my colleagues that a smile is infectious, and I certainly see this every day when I interact with the residents.
There are of course challenges. Dealing with death is inevitably part of the job and it’s always a huge emotional strain when someone who you’ve become close to passes away. I’m incredibly fortunate to work with a team of fantastic people who are always around to provide support.
Would I encourage others to switch careers and move into social care? Absolutely. Despite its challenges, a career in social career is incredibly rewarding. One of my career highlights was earlier this year when I became a finalist in the Ancillary Worker category for the Great British Care Awards, reaching the North West finals. It was a great honour to be nominated for a job that I love.
I firmly believe that changing careers was the best decision I’ve ever made. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I feel privileged to work with such fantastic people in such a warm and caring environment. I plan to stay working at Pennine Lodge for as long as I can.