Working in the care sector, we all know how demanding and also rewarding the job can be, and few people have put that into words better than Kim Barker, from the Horsham St Faith office, who has just completed 15 years as a team member with Extra Hands.
She joined us straight after her A levels and freely admits she was unsure if the job was for her when she started out – but her mind is very much made up now.
“If you’d asked me at 18 if I thought I’d still be here at nearly 34 I’d probably have laughed, but the job has become who I am,” she said. “I absolutely love what I do and don’t see myself doing anything else.
“Sometimes the people we visit can be so vulnerable and scared, so knowing that we help keep them at home, where they want to be, for as long as possible, gives me great job satisfaction.
“You can’t come into caring half-heartedly. I don’t do this for the money, you have to want to be a carer and make a difference. It’s like a vocation.”
Despite our growth during her time with us, Kim said the company had remained rooted in what made it a success, and somewhere that she was so happy to work.
“Whether you’re a big or small company, if your core values remain the same you’ll succeed, and I’ve been here for 15 years, which says a lot,” she said. “I had nearly a year out when I gave birth to twin boys, and they were great at accommodating me back to work, not just in terms of work, but in my personal life too.”
One of the company’s strengths, Kim said, was how it enabled people to stay in their own homes, giving them much greater peace of mind.
“To be playing a part in that is definitely satisfying,” she said. “Keeping people in their own home is massively important to me, I believe people are so much better off in own environment, and will recuperate better at home if they’ve been unwell.”
Having been an A Level student when she joined 15 years ago, Kim says her time with Extra Hands has been – and continues to be an education, professionally and personally.
“The job teaches you what you are capable of, and how much you can offer somebody else,” she said.
“When my own grandfather passed away three years ago, my knowledge from work helped me understand his illness and also offer support to my own parents, knowing the right things to say and do. Doing this job has taught me so much, not least that we’re all a lot more capable of caring than we realise.”