Why I love my job
Paula Rawding is centre manager at Woodlands, a 20 bed MS Society respite care centre in York.
I have realised for some time that I have a genuine need to care. It makes me feel good when I’m helping others.
We offer social and health care to our guests, who are physically disabled by MS. Many have additional problems such as epilepsy, diabetes, visual impairment, and deafness. Guests join us from all over the country, on a one or two week break.
I thought this job would provide me with the opportunity to develop my managerial skills and use my nursing experience. I’ve been nursing for 25 years and as corny as it sounds, entered the profession because I really did want to help people.
Before I started here I hadn’t realised the complexity of the service the centre provides. My team is large and includes social care, health, admin, domestic and kitchen staff. We have 150 volunteers and also run a charity shop. My job is challenging and exciting. I learn something new every day. The constant change of guests means each day is different and it’s a joy getting to know such a diverse group of people.
I am full of admiration for the way in which our service users make the most of each day, taking up every opportunity to do something different. These are usually things they can’t manage at home, whether it’s going bowling or to the races, or something as simple as visiting the hairdresser. Seeing and hearing the joy these activities bring helps me appreciate my own good fortune.
It’s fantastic being able to work with such committed staff, who strive to make our guests’ visits valued and cherished experiences. Despite the physically hard work and sometimes emotionally charged needs of our guests, the service is delivered with a sense of fun and cheerfulness I haven’t experienced anywhere else.
We all have bad days at work, and I’m no different. My worst days include chasing debtors: the majority of our guests are funded by local authorities across the country, who are often slow to pay. Also time consuming and frustrating is agreeing individual contracts with local authorities for each guest.
What I really want to be doing is spending more time with our service users, not admin tasks.
I cried at work when listening to a guest’s experience of abuse from her partner at home. She was too frightened to tell anyone else about it in case her partner was forced to leave her. Our guests face many difficult situations. Knowing we provide them with a safe respite break, free from everyday worries is what motivates me to get up for work each morning.
Someone recently asked me for some tips to help them settle in to a similar job. I encouraged them to be inclusive, not to make changes until they’ve learnt the current system, and enjoy and learn from each day.
I hope I make a positive difference to the lives of guests and staff. They all make a very positive difference to mine.