From Care Assistant to Home Manger: Sarah shares how an apprenticeship helped progress her career

18 March 2019 . United Kingdom

Currently Home Manger at Bupa’s The Arkley care home, Sarah Mair is the first to admit that it hasn’t always been an easy journey. However, thanks to the support of her colleagues and the opportunity to learn on the job, Sarah’s become one of Bupa’s rising stars.

Looking back on when she first joined Bupa Care Services back in August 2014, Sarah recalls how after her first week, she walked out and didn’t intend to come back. She’d had a tough year – the toughest that perhaps anyone could face. At the time she was 21 years old and had just lost her mum to breast cancer a few months earlier, who she had been caring for her until she passed away. It was her mum who had inspired her to take on a career in care. Here she shares what made her come back and how she developed her career at Bupa through an apprenticeship.

“After losing my mum, I gave up and literally hit rock bottom. I had to take some time out, but when I was ready to start work again I remembered how my mum had made me promise to make caring for people my career – she said I had a special gift and that I had to use it,” Sarah said.

“But just one week into my job as a Care Assistant at Hadley Lawns I walked out – I found it hard, mainly because it was a constant reminder of my mum and it was upsetting. However, my manager at the time was great – they saw my potential and encouraged me back to the home but working on a residential unit instead which was easier for me.”

Over time, Sarah went from Care Assistant, to Acting Senior Care Assistant and she met Sam Ndlovu, who she credits for being her mentor and biggest supporter, helping her to develop and progress her career. “Sam joined Hadley as Home Manager and saw my potential. I owe my career to him, he’s been my mentor and wherever Sam’s gone I’ve gone too,” Sarah said.

So, when Sam took on a new role as Home Manager at The Arkley in 2017, Sarah moved to The Arkley too and took on the new position of Care Manager. In just a few months they worked together with the wider team to dramatically improve quality at The Arkley which resulted in improved inspection ratings from the CQC.

Exactly a year later in August 2018 Sarah was promoted to Deputy Manager, and just a month afterwards she then took on the role of Interim Home Manager, when Sam was promoted to Regional Support Manager. On 31 December 2018, Sarah’s role as Home Manager was made permanent.

So, in four years Sarah progressed from a Care Assistant to a Home Manager. As well as the opportunities and support she was given by her managers, she credits her apprenticeship for helping her to develop the skills and experience needed to get to where she is today. She said: “I took a Level 3 qualification with Lifetime and I’m so glad I did. My advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship would be 100% to do it. I walked out of school scraping five GCSEs and didn’t get any A-Levels, but my apprenticeship has given me the complimentary skills I needed to support my career aspirations.”

Sarah was recognised out of hundreds of nominees, when she was awarded a Lifetime Learner Achievement Awards as Health and Social Care Apprentice of the Year. The exciting honour was given to Sarah for thriving from strength to strength throughout her qualification and the judges said that Sarah’s entry stood out as “truly inspiring”.

Sarah is very passionate about her role and her development and she’s all about helping her team to realise their potential too. She said: “I always say the sky’s the limit and I want my team to believe that – so to me it’s really important that I share any opportunities available and I’m pleased to see that lots of them are taking up an apprenticeship. I’m so proud to work for Bupa, doing something I love and making a difference. And I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given and the people I’ve met as without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.”