Opinion

Proud to care: making social care a career of choice

Rachel Jones, Director of Care & Housing Services, Jewish Care

Rachel Jones, Director of Care & Housing Services, Jewish Care

“Once I began my first role as a carer, I knew that social care was a career for life. Since then, I’ve dedicated the majority of my career to working in Jewish community charities providing social care. To me, social care nourishes the soul and I feel so privileged to have found something that I truly love. I hope in some way I can help to encourage people into the world of social care by sharing my own experiences.

Everyone in society is touched by social care at some point in their lives and I think there is no better way to fulfil a need to help than by supporting people. I would say that for me, working with older people and those at the end of their lives is the most privileged job. I adore working within the community which has loved and supported so many of my family and friends over the years. I am proud to work at Jewish Care, who cared for both my grandmothers, in what is now Jewish Care’s Anita Dorfman House at Sandringham. I joined Jewish Care in May 2021 as the Interim Head of Housing and Domiciliary Care and was then appointed as Director of Care & Housing Services.

I always knew I wanted to have longevity in my career so that I could make a positive difference to people’s lives. I began volunteering and then worked as a carer at Norwood and Kisharon, Jewish charities for children and adults with learning disabilities. I started to volunteer at the after school and holiday club for young children with severe physical disabilities at Norwood and I still volunteer there. I met some incredible young people and eventually ended up being paid staff. We took groups of children on specialist holiday schemes and I loved it. I am still in touch with youth workers, families and children that are grown up some 25 years later.

I loved the spirit of selflessness and the feeling of belonging. When children were dropped at camp, their faces excited for activities ahead really gave me hope. I knew what respite was from an early age, and I see it in the faces of relatives and families now when Jewish Care can ease the pressure for people caring for elderly relatives and loved ones.

From my perspective, the key to career development is hard work, dedication and persistence. If you want something, you have the power to make it happen. I listened to and met people who were just as passionate as me. I went for jobs and progression and sometimes I didn’t get it. I learnt from the failures and was able to distil my passion over the years.

I have met some inspirational front line staff over the years who have aspired to develop themselves and have been encouraged by their managers to do so. I would say that keeping abreast of the sector and taking part in all training available are the best ways to connect with opportunities.

I have two degrees, though they are not related to what I do now. Firstly, I did a BA Hons in Early Childhood studies specialising in additional needs. This was born from my early volunteering roles and the ambition to be an Art Therapist. Following that I did a City and Guilds in Jewellery Design and Diamond Setting as I knew I loved the creative arts. The rest of my qualifications are down to experience and training.

During my career I have been nurtured by my managers and by organisations who want me to succeed and have allowed room for growth and development. All the roles I have had over the years have brought something special to my life. I moved into more senior roles and went on to run various housing associations and smaller charities before serving as the Executive Director at Sunridge Court care home for eight years. I was one of the lead professionals in overseeing the merger between Sunridge Court and Jewish Care, which was a real stand out moment in my career. I’ve loved the new experiences my job has brought with it, such as being part of the team and working alongside our care homes and Retirement Living schemes supported by our incredibly talented and strong team of staff and volunteers.

I have been most inspired by my incredible mum who worked full time and raised me to be a strong independent woman. I can build on a Jewish communal legacy that she inspired within me and through her sacrifice and dedication to both her family and her community, I am able to do the same.

Kirsty

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