Ray Pearce – Manufacturing to Care
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 Ray Pearce, House Manager of the therapeutic residential care team at Options Malvern View, a transition service that helps young people aged 16+ with autism and a range of complex needs to fulfil their potential for independence. This was a career he could not have envisaged when he began his working life on the shop floor of a Worcestershire factory.
I started at the bottom, working on the shop floor of a factory manufacturing tubular components for machinery, with sales contracts all over the world. I worked my way up until I was managing four high level accounts generating £250,000 in sales every week, whilst also completing my journalism course and having the first of my three children. It was quite a juggling act that taught me how to set priorities, balance workload and also look after myself and family.
I’d been at the factory for eight years and reached the top of the ladder so I needed a new challenge. Our family had suffered a number of tragic losses which changed my outlook on life. I realised I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives.
A friend suggested I join him in working at Options Malvern View. I was initially hesitant as I knew nothing about autism, and very little about learning difficulties or behaviours that challenge. But I read up about it and the more I learned, the more the idea of making a positive impact on individuals’ day-to-day lives appealed to me.
I decided to go for it. I’ve never looked back, and couldn’t see myself working in any other sector.
From the outset, my goal was to progress to Team Leader and then to a higher management role. There are lots of opportunities for staff to progress and this is identified through regular supervision. The collective support I’ve received from the team has been phenomenal, as has the quality of the ongoing training – both these elements have helped me achieve my goal in a relatively short space of time.
I’ve been a House Manager in charge of one of our specialist residential “units” for two years now. Being in a management role means that I now have the chance to put myself in the shoes of service users and become their “voice”. I can influence the support that is put in place, ensure that care plans are kept up to date and tailored to their individual needs to help them to achieve their goals.
My career is filled with memorable highlights. One notable moment was supporting a young person who had a big fear of water since early childhood. Together with the clinical team and manager we worked on taking steps to increase his confidence. After many months we got him to visit a swimming pool; he looked at the pool, and walked round it several times. This was already huge progress. All of a sudden after about half an hour we heard a great splash – and he was in! The smile on his face was something I will never forget – it brought me tears of joy and melted my heart. He now loves going to the pool regularly. This is why I’m in this job.
Helping vulnerable young people learn life skills – seemingly little things that we might take for granted – makes a huge difference to their quality of life. My job is like being on the most exciting rollercoaster – there are lots of twists and turns but everyone is moving at the same pace with the same goals!