After 14 years working in pubs and clubs, Sharon Field took what she thought was a ‘stop-gap’ job at Bull Point House to make ends meet. Today, 16 years later and now the manager of the service recently rated ‘Outstanding’ in Care by the CQC, Sharon explains why she turned her back on her first career after discovering true fulfilment as a care professional.
Hi Sharon, what was your working life like before you took started working at Bull Point?
I went straight from school to working in the cloakroom of a nightclub at 16 – I was so young! From there, I took jobs in bars and clubs and worked my way up to become a bar manager before I got my own pub. In 2004, the pub I was running closed and there was a six-month wait before I was given the next pub. That’s when I took a temporary job that changed my life.
How did you come to work for Bull Point House?
It was through a friend, they were working there and said I should try it. It was very different, it wasn’t easy, but it was enjoyable. Within a few weeks, I knew I really loved it. When you are working in nightlife, you are just part of someone’s night out. In my new job, I became part of people’s lives. I found I cared about my job at Bull Point, and it had real substance, it wasn’t just a pay check to me.
So, you decided to turn your back on pubs and dedicate yourself to care. How did your career develop?
Well, I did ten years on nights and during that time, I did my NVQ, which was a big deal for me because I’m not academic at all. But once I’d got that, I decided to transfer to days, and learnt how to provide support that’s enhancing people’s lives (not just a good night’s sleep!) and had the opportunity to build up my relationships with them. I got a promotion to become a Senior, which was hard work because Bull Point is a big, busy service, but I just loved it.
You are a Service Manager now, how did Salutem help you to realise your full potential?
After two years of being a Senior, Salutem bought the company and it was really exciting. They are really passionate about personal development and wanted to invest in us as professionals, which was very different from our previous owners.
The Deputy Manager post came up at Bull Point, and I thought, ‘Right, I’m going to go for that!’ and I got it. After just six months, the Service Manager’s job came up and I thought, ‘I’ll never be able to do that’, but Salutem encouraged me to apply and gave me the role. It’s been two years since I took over and the best moment so far was when our team got ‘Outstanding’ in care in our recent CQC inspection. It’s all because I have a team around me that share my vision.
Now you are a Service Manager, what are you looking for when you recruit new team members?
I’ve got team members here who never did a day’s work in care before they joined us. I’m not so interested in experience; instead, I want to find out what sort of person the candidate is. You can train people in the job and its practical aspects, but you can’t teach somebody to genuinely care about others. I’m interested in finding out if the candidate is caring, kind and shares my vision about wanting to help the people we support to live great lives.
You came into care as a second career, would you encourage others who have worked in different industries to consider a job in care?
I would say ‘Give it a go!’ We’ve got some fantastic team members here who started in other industries – including a former make-up artist, a builder, a maths teacher and a retired army officer. Care work is incredibly varied and interesting, and what you do genuinely makes a difference. Most days, you’ll go home feeling you achieved something – whether that’s helping a person you support to hold a toothbrush properly or taking them to Harry Potter World for the first time.
You are a great example of how Salutem can help people grow and develop professionally too.
The company is really supportive; they look after their employees and give us loads of training. Over the past 20 years, the care sector has completely changed – you can really go places with it. There are lots of promotional opportunities and rewards, plus you can join a team of people who become like family to you.
What’s been the proudest moment of your career?
There’s one lady who I’ve looked after for all the years I’ve worked at Bull Point. It was her birthday recently and I was celebrating with her, as I have on her 16th, 18th, 21st, and many other birthdays. I looked at her and she was so genuinely happy and doing so well. I thought to myself, ‘She’s having a great life and I’ve been part of that’. To me, that is genuinely priceless and it’s the most wonderful thing about my job.