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Second career success

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Not many people in their 50s leave a part-time job and return to full-time working in a completely new area but Tina Dennet did and she says life has actually got easier

Tina Dennet, of Bookham, has had a classic career profile. She trained as a nurse working at St George’s Tooting and the Royal Marsden specialising in paediatrics. She was a junior sister in her 30s until she became a full-time Mum and moved from London to Bookham.

Like many career women, she chose to return to work part-time when her children reached school age to fit in with their schedule.

‘At some point in my 50s, I started to feel I had skills that were not being used and that I had more to give,’ she says. ‘I had my health and energy plus a lot of experience. I wanted a last go at my career in a different area.’

How did she go about finding a new job?

 ‘What I did was sit down and completely re-write my CV. I focused less on the specific roles I’ve had in the past and emphasised what I could offer – life experience, teaching experience, dealing with people and difficult situations, organising things, communicating,  finding solutions, being patient, having a sense of humour and so on. I’d advise anyone looking for a career change to do that. You probably have far more transferable skills than you think.’

Tina saw an advertisement for a Support Worker at The Grange Centre for People with Learning Disabilities and went along for an interview. She was actually taken on in a more senior role, full time. She started in April 2019 and joined a team providing support and care for 15 people with learning and/or physical disabilities living in three small group homes. So how is it going?

‘It is very busy,’ is Tina’s first reaction. ‘There are a lot of logistics and changes to our daily plan. Anything can happen!’

A typical morning shift sees Tina arrive at 7.30am and start on the list of tasks – who needs help getting up and getting ready? Who has an appointment and which member of staff is taking them in which car? Where’s the paperwork? Then there’s the daily round of medication and very often someone will need emotional support in the middle of the morning rush.

It’s been a learning curve but a lot of it is familiar to me.

‘Basically, you’re dealing with 15 sets of needs, dietary requirements and personal preferences,’ she laughs. ‘Then each person has a number of one-to-one hours and this needs to be quality time – such as a day out or a visit.

‘It’s been a learning curve but a lot of it is familiar to me – writing reports, care plans, using outside agencies and managing teams – it’s all clicking into place and I’m studying for a Care Certificate online.’

In spite of all this, Tina finds the role easier than some part-time work she’s had. ‘There’s a certain rhythm to the work and we all pull together as a team. In some part-time jobs you take a lot of work home with you. Plus the people we work with are a delight.’

“It’s made me realise the importance of support work. It’s a professional role with a high degree of accountability.

  What about work-life balance?

 ‘The kids are at University and I’ve got a very supportive husband. Although I’m doing shift work, including alternate weekends, I quite enjoy having a day off in the week. Not a lot has changed and my family are pleased that I am happy in my job.’

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