Local woman Jackie McCaughey is passionate about promoting career opportunities in the social care sector, and has been talking about the significance of her voluntary role as an Ambassador for Careers in Care.
Jackie, who grew up in Dromara, went back into the healthcare sector around 10 years ago and she is now an area manager with the mental health charity MindWise.
“I was very keen to be part of the NISCC Ambassadors service,” said Jackie,“because I saw it an opportunity to tell others about my experiences - how they too can progress from being a care assistant to management with a bit of hard work and determination”.
Jackie began training to become a nurse after leaving school, but left before completing her finals to focus her energy on family life and working on the family farm outside Lisburn. Over the years her circumstances began to change, and Jackie took her opportunity to return to work.
“As my children were growing up and I was no longer needed full-time on the farm, I decided to go back to work in healthcare, initially as a care assistant in a nursing home,” said Jackie.
“I knew as soon as I went back into the healthcare sector that I had made the right decision.
“I have progressed through various roles in the last 10 years, and have been with MindWise for almost seven.”
An aspect of the role with MindWise that Jackie particularly enjoys, is the variety.
“Each day is very different and it’s always busy, but most important is seeing the difference we make to people lives as they begin or continue their recovery journey.
“I find the work very rewarding in that I am helping others and hopefully making a real difference to people’s lives, whether they are in a day care setting, supported housing or in a nursing or residential home.
“It is always sad to see people leave our services but it is a pleasure to know that when they do move on we have provided the support that has helped them to be able to manage their mental health and to continue in their recovery with reduced support from services. Helping people develop their skills, self-esteem and confidence in their abilities is very rewarding.”
While Jackie now has an impressive collection of qualifications, and in 2013 was named Northern Ireland VQ Learner of the Year, she admits that returning to study was a challenge, but with the right support is a good move.
“I would urge anyone who wants to start or return to education that it’s never too late,” said Jackie.
“Everyone can learn, given the right support and advice. It’s about choosing the best pathway for you.”
Jackie is passionate about encouraging new recruits to the social care sector and shares her enthusiasm through her role of NISCC Ambassadors for Careers in Care.
“There are some excellent career pathways in the social care sector and great opportunities to learn and progress. Showing people what they can achieve and telling them about the various roles they can work in is satisfying. I also get an opportunity to talk about MindWise and the work we do for people with mental health issues.”
To find out more about the Ambassadors for Careers in Care service run by NISCC visit www.niscc.info and to find out more about MindWise, visit their website www.mindwisenv.org