To mark World Alzheimer’s Month, Rapport Housing & Care is speaking to those working and living in their care homes about their experiences.

Cheryl Poyner-Weeks and Nicole Mercer, who work at Barnes Lodge in Tonbridge, shared their stories of working in such a challenging role.

“I get bored easily, which is why I have had lot’s of jobs but I can honestly say, I’m never bored here.” Says Nicole, Care Team Manager at Barnes Lodge. “I actually look forward to coming to work.”

Nicole has been working at Barnes Lodge for two years, starting out as a Flexi Senior, she is now managing the upper two floors of the home, following encouragement from the organisation’s Director of Operations.

“I started out working a domestic role within a hospice, I was shocked to see an old friend’s name on the board who was sadly living with terminal cancer. I spent some time with her and she suggested I tried a role in care, I wasn’t sure it was for me, but I went for it.”

Starting out as a day carer, 11 years ago, Cheryl also developed her career and has progressed to a senior carer role, joining the organisation’s in-house training programme in its first year of operation.

“I worked as an auxiliary nurse but wanted a change, following some time off to have my children. I applied for a job as a carer and have worked in the sector ever since. The night shifts particularly suited me as I had young children.

“The industry has changed a lot over the years, but unfortunately, working in care is still not recognised as a career. People say, ‘oh you’re just a carer,’ we clean up after old people but it’s so much more than that. It’s tough but it’s so rewarding, knowing you’ve had an impact on the lives of our residents.”

“It can be challenging,” adds Nicole. “We have residents with a variety of care needs here at Barnes Lodge and no two days are the same, but we have a great team and we really support each other.”