Ben started his career in care 10 years ago after trying out lots of different types of jobs. He now works at Thornham Grove Care Home in Ibstock, Leicestershire, as a team leader and dementia care mapper. Keep reading to find out how Ben progressed in his career, and what his day-to-day role involves...

How did you begin your career in social care?

When I was in my 20's I moved around quite a few different jobs but didn't find anything that I felt was right for me. I wanted a job that was meaningful, where I could make a difference. It was my close relationship with my grandparents that inspired me to consider roles working with older people. I knew I had the right values for the role because I am naturally very kind, compassionate and patient.

What was it like when you started in your first care role?

I remember my first day as a care assistant clearly. It felt a bit scary, but I got amazing support and I soon settled in. The company I work for, Rushcliffe Care, give good induction and training. You get in trained in everything that you need to know; manual handling, food hygiene etc.

How did you progress into your role as team leader and dementia care mapper?

Early on in social care career my ambition was to progress into a management position. I think I thought that that was the natural next step to move forward in my career. I completed the management training and started in a management role, but I soon discovered that it wasn't for me. I spoke to my supervisors and they were supportive and helped me find a way to progress that fitted with what I am passionate about. That was when I got the opportunity to complete specialist training in dementia care. I completed a four-day training programme. It was quite intense! We had to do exams.

What is dementia care mapping?

Dementia care mapping (DCM) is about trying to bring people living with dementia out of the fog/darkness that they can sometimes find themselves in. It is about focusing on their abilities, not disabilities. My role is to try to understand things from the resident's perspective, not the environment or staff. For this reason, it is a really person-centred approach. I spend around 6 hours with each resident and to gather all the observations I need to put together an action plan to improve their experiences. It is then my role to work with the care team to help them to implement these actions.

What is the best part of your job?

It's very satisfying seeing positive changes through my work with Dementia Care Mapping. For example, I worked with one lady who experiencing a lot of distress and was struggling to settle into the home. The care team had tried distraction techniques but the lady was still struggling. Through Dementia Care Mapping, I was able to identify that the resident was struggling because her emotions were not being properly acknowledged by the staff supporting her. I was able to work with the staff to help them to provide the resident with the emotional support that she needed. The care staff now validate her feelings during times of distress by using various techniques such as; reminiscence activities and validation therapy. I recently revisited this resident and found that her wellbeing has been dramatically improved and she is starting to build positive relationships with the care team.

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