Whether it’s for a financial boost or because of a calling to find a new, strong purpose, more older workers over the age of 50 are choosing to work in care, some for the first time in their lives.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), during the past year alone more than 100,000 people over the age of 60 started a new job in the UK, a rise of 11% from the previous year.
As we start to live longer and work longer, the ONS’s conservative estimate is for this figure to double within the next 15 years.
It’s not all about the money
Although poor pension pots and rising inflation may come into the mix, for the many re-training to become a carer, it’s more about the pull of a role that’s more rewarding.
For Melvyn (pictured here), a 71-year-old retired engineering consultant from Coventry, he felt compelled to switch to a career that was completely different where he could really make a difference in people’s lives.
“Having had an international career, working self-employed for many years, this has been a long-term personal promise of mine – to give something back to society.
“It’s a tremendously varied role and personally very rewarding to know that you can help people.”
Ursula Jayes heads up our team that recruits carers for roles throughout the country. She says, “Yes, the extra income and pension contributions help, but we find that many older workers are inspired for other reasons. Maybe the kids have flown the nest, they’re looking to switch to a more fulfilling career, or they’re wondering what’s next after retiring.
“Whatever their reason, what our carers feel is a passion to make a difference in somebody else’s life. And it’s this,” she adds, “that is the distinction between a good carer and an outstanding one.”
Work experience vs life experience
And these outstanding carers come in all shapes and sizes, of all ages (from 18 to our most mature at 81) and from a vast array of different backgrounds – both personal and professional.
From fresh out of college or university right through to retired accountants, nurses and teachers. Then there are those who’ve been ‘unofficially’ caring for others their whole lives, whether it be kids, grandkids or quite naturally for their friends and the people they meet.
Carole, who’s 55-years-old and from Sutton Coldfield, joined Helping Hands in 2015 after her husband passed away. “I had been caring for people on a voluntary basis for many years. Friends and relatives always said I was a natural carer and always showed empathy with people, even if I had just met them.
“What I enjoy most is knowing I can make a difference to someone’s life but still let them have independence. And being a widow myself, I have found that I have a lot in common with most of my customers.”
For Shelagh, a retired nurse in Weston-super-Mare, she was keen to get back to the caring profession after retirement. She shares, “I decided it was time to retire from nursing, but found that I missed the interaction that the care role brings.” Last year, at the age of 63, she applied to become a carer with Helping Hands.
“In the beginning, I was unsure whether I could find the same fulfillment working as a carer, especially when I had always been in a more senior role, but soon found I enjoyed going to work. I meet lots of interesting people with lots of stories to tell,” she adds. “It is great fun and I laugh a lot!”
Fifty-one-year-old Denise from Swansea (pictured here) started to consider becoming a carer after supporting her dad on a full-time basis after he was diagnosed with cancer.
“I was under the impression that the reason I enjoyed caring so much was that I was doing it for a loved one,” explains Denise, “but this turned out not to be the case.”
Flexible work options
Many carers prefer domiciliary care as it’s often at a much more comfortable pace than care in a residential setting. Always offered on a one-to-one basis, mealtimes, shower times and daily routines are all set to a single customer’s timetable, rather than the timetable of the residential care home or other residents.
Ursula explains, “It’s all about working longer for better, and this comes into the carer role with the flexible part-time hours for home visits, long periods off between placements for live-in carers, and making those perfect customer/carer matches.”