On the face of it, a 20-year-old shoe shop worker and a 53-year-old hairdresser may not have a huge amount in common, but during the pandemic, Tamara Proctor and Amanda Hathaway have both entered the care sector by starting life at Extra Hands.
Their reasons for changing careers were not dissimilar, and their feelings having made the move are definitely the same. Both saw what was happening in the pandemic and decided this was the time to make a move they had been considering for a while.
“When I was growing up I was a carer for my mum, and I’d also seen how carers helped her, so when I could see what was happening with the virus, it seemed like the best time to get involved with a job that was a natural fit for me,” said Tamara, from West Lynn.
Her previous experience working in a shoe shop, mainly dealing with older customers, also gave her an insight into the way some care service users think and behave, which has made the transition easier.
“I was coming into contact with elderly people and getting used to how they communicate and behave, so that’s helped,” she said.
Amanda, from Dersingham, has also drawn on previous working experience to help her make the professional switch.
“I’ve been a hairdresser since I was 16, and a lot of my customers tended to be older, so I ended up doing extra things like shopping to help them anyway,” she said. “I had thought about trying caring when I was a bit older, but when COVID shut down home visiting, I thought now was time to make the move.
“Fortunately, going into people’s houses and making yourself at home there, and making the homeowner comfortable with that, is what I’ve done for years.”
Having spent so long in one job, though, did make changing roles a bit of a challenge.
“Hairdressing comes naturally to me, it’s been my life since I was 16, so to do anything else was always going to be a big step,” she said. “But now I absolutely love being a carer. Making the users happy and leaving them safe, with a smile on their face, is the best feeling.”
Tamara is also very happy with her decision to change roles, and the rewards it has brought her.
“It’s been really character-building,” she said. “When I used to go and see someone I didn’t know, I tended to worry a bit, but having done the role for a while now, I know it’s just part of the job, so I throw myself into it.”