At just 23, Jack Priday was the proud recipient of the Best Newcomer accolade at this year’s Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards. Jack shares his journey into care and tells us why he believes that “working in care is the best job in the world”.
When I was 13, I became a carer for my Dad. He was diagnosed with epilepsy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and a brain injury. As I grew up, caring for him was just part of my routine, I hadn’t considered it was something that I could do for my career.
I was working in Mcdonald’s when I got the call from Total Jobs. They had seen my CV online and called to ask if I would be interested in going for an interview at Precious Homes. Prior to McDonald’s, I’d worked in retail and on market stalls, so I knew I could work with people – and I needed something that would fit around caring for Dad.
The call came out of the blue. I have to admit, like many people, the thought of personal care put me off the idea at first. I haven’t got a very strong stomach and was worried I wouldn’t manage. It turns out, I needn’t have worried. Working in supported living, there isn’t a lot of personal care required, and when I have needed to, I found I managed just fine.
Eleven months on, I enjoy the role far better than I ever thought I would. I’m always looking for overtime because I really enjoy being at work. Every day is different because it is based on what the people we support fancy doing on that day – whether it is telling a story, going swimming or going to the local pub, or just staying at home doing things like laundry and cooking. Naturally, as with any job, some days are difficult. But the good days by far outweigh the bad, and there aren’t many jobs where you have days out at West Midlands Safari Park and trips to the seaside at Weston Super Mare!
I think my greatest achievements in the role have been supporting people to improve their quality of life. I worked closely with one man who hadn’t left his flat for six months. By building a relationship with him, gaining his trust, and getting to know his interests, we managed to get him to visit his local BMW garage. It might not sound much, but for him, it has been life-changing. Since that day, he goes out to collect his takeaway and has been to the local pub for a carvery. He’s also much calmer in general, which has really improved his quality of life. I also worked with a lad my age to get him out swimming. After lockdown, he struggled to get back into activities. He now goes to the gym and cinema regularly. It’s amazing to see and be part of that progress.
People often think care work is dominated by women. That’s not the case at all. In fact, where I work, there’s a balance of both. A lot of the role is about thinking about other people’s needs – what can make their lives more comfortable? That isn’t something that is related to being a certain gender. Anyone can do it. Men can be compassionate too.
At the end of the day the role is about putting a smile on someone’s face – and seeing people succeed puts a smile on my face too. Working in care is one of the best jobs in the world. I even persuaded my brother to become a support worker, and he loves it too!