Real Lives

It’s never too late to care!

Karen Ansell

Karen Ansell – From retail to care

Throughout the year 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 Karen Ansell, Specialist Support Worker at the Kent Autistic Trust who left retail to work in the care sector.

The social care sector’s struggle for staff has been outlined in stark terms with research showing that supermarket jobs typically pay better wages than care providers can afford.Recent headlines have revealed how many social care workers are leaving the care sector for more lucrative roles in retail but what about those who move in the opposite direction?

Karen Ansell had been working in retail for more than 20 years and had reached management level when she decided to quit her supermarket job for a new challenge.  Inspired by a friend who was loving her role in care, Karen became a specialist support worker for the Kent Autistic Trust, supporting Autistic adults at one of the charity’s Registered Homes in Faversham, Kent.  Recently nominated for the Care Newcomer award at the Kent Integrated Care Alliance, Care Awards, Karen outlines her reasons for moving into social care.

“There aren’t that many jobs where you can go out somewhere nice for the day, have a good time and get paid for it but specialist support work is certainly a job where that can happen.” she explains.  Those who work with her, describe Karen as a natural in care.  “She is always happy go lucky and her good mood rubs off on everyone” her manager said, “Karen reminds me of when I was new to care and how in in awe I felt about the valuable work I was doing.” Because she shows genuine enjoyment for the work she does, Karen gets a lot out of what she does with the people she supports and so do they.

Karen had no formal care experience but has experience of a family member who was previously in the care of the Trust.  Karen felt she had the right values and transferable skills for the role.  The endless patience you need to work in a large supermarket was great preparation for the care sector.  She contacted the manager of the home she now works in, completed the online application, and never looked back.  Following an interview, she attended a taster day and induction and joined the team at Perry’s Close under Manager, Clare Jeffery.  Clare has been impressed by the way in which Karen listens to the guidance and absorbs it.  She has been very easy to train and has said that she is really enjoying the training; she is very keen to learn more.  She wants to understand best practice and what the guys she supports need from their carers.

Like many who are new to the sector, she found it quite difficult at first, but she persevered.  Karen has used her people skills, honed over many years in retail, to help with people with varying complex needs, understanding the best way to support their unique requirements.   She always takes time to figure out the best way to fulfil the wishes and needs of those she supports; you can tell she gets real satisfaction from her work.

Karen loves her current job and plans to keep enjoying her support worker role for the time being, but she doesn’t rule out progressing further in the Trust with colleagues already encouraging her to think about management roles.


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