Autism worker and former teacher ‘lucky and privileged’ to make real difference to someone’s life

The Covid-19 outbreak has given many the opportunity to embark on a new career.

For 60-year-old Penelope (pictured) from Southminster she switched to a career in adult social care over 10 years ago after being made redundant from her role as a primary school teacher and she has never looked back.

Penelope has now been a personal assistant to an adult with autism for the last 10 years, providing support for a few days a week.

Not only does the role bring her much joy, she also finds it rewarding to actively see the ripple effect impact it has on the young gentleman’s entire family. Penelope gives them the opportunity to recharge their batteries and focus on other aspects of their life whilst she supports him to achieve goals and take part in activities within his community.

Penelope explained why she loves being a personal assistant: “You don’t become an adult social carer purely to earn money. There are so many more hidden benefits to this role. For me, it has increased my self-esteem when I see what a great time the gentlemen I support is having and how that in turn benefits his mum. Watching him smile and laugh just fills me with happiness, as I know he must be comfortable in my presence. He has very much become part of my family and I have even taken him on holiday with me!

“The activities we do together means that I’m taking care of my own mental and physical health too. Before the pandemic we would explore Essex together a lot by going out on the train and going for walks.

“Being out in the fresh air was wonderful for my wellbeing and meeting new people has helped boost my own confidence. We would often go for lunch, swimming, bowling and to the cinema – all things that I probably would not have encountered outside of this role”.

Essex County Council is currently looking for more people like Penelope to take up vital roles across Essex in adult social care.

There is a wealth of diverse roles on offer, all designed to provide personal and practical support to help people live independently; from adults with disabilities, to older people, or those with mental or physical conditions.

Workers can be based in the community, in care homes, hospitals or people’s homes with tasks ranging from supporting people to participate in social activities in the community, to helping with personal care, such as getting dressed or cooking meals.

Director of Adult Social Care, Nick Presmeg, said: “To start your career in adult social care, all you need is the right qualities, rather than specific qualifications. With on-the-job training and ongoing support, starting a career in care has never been easier”.

Nick continued: “Working in adult social care is not just an emotionally rewarding role, it’s one of the most in-demand and varied roles too. Working with a range of people with different care needs means that no day is the same. It can also provide great ongoing career progression and job security, which has become particularly important to many people during the pandemic.

“Make a difference to people’s lives, including your own, and apply today”.

The number of adult social care jobs is predicted to increase by 36% (580,000 jobs) to around 2.20 million jobs by 2035.