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Reflecting on the past year in social care

Mark Topps reflects on 2021, how COVID has changed his career and what he's looking forward to in the New Year.

A close up shot of a pair of elderly hands sat on top of one another, with a gold ring worn on the middle finger of the left hand.
Mark Topps
Mark Topps
Regional Business Manager
Published on:
23/12/2021
· Last Edited On:
9/6/2022
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8-minute read

Where has this year gone? We’re days away from Christmas and it feels like we should be in May or June! Sadly, another year full of COVID and restrictions, but this hasn’t stopped all of us in social care from doing an amazing job supporting people and going above and beyond to make a difference.

Seeing the sector actively in the media has been great – we’ve never had so much airtime! As a result, I truly believe the public perception of care and support workers has begun to shift. So has the vision to ensure care staff are seen as skilled professionals, with a higher salary to reflect this.

My life has completely changed

Looking back across the year, COVID really has changed my life and opened my eyes to valuing my personal time more.

I remember the date – 7th February 2021.

I was in full PPE delivering hands-on care and managing an amazing team of support workers when I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket. When I checked it later in the day it was full of photos on the family WhatsApp of my children in the snow, and the reality of life hit me.

Right then I realised I needed to prioritise my family, my wife and my children. And doing that meant I’d need to leave my role within the care home, a decision I never thought I’d have to make.

I remember talking to my wife on the way home, explaining that I wanted to leave and weighing everything up. I had a clear career pathway, a team of truly incredible staff who pulled together throughout the pandemic, and a job that I loved. But after being away from my family for 252 days, the time had come for me to hand my notice in.

“I truly believe the public perception of care and support workers has begun to shift.”

The next phase of my life

The following months whizzed by. I spent the summer holidays working from home in a new role, whilst being able to spend time with my family – something I cherished.

But I found being remote wasn’t for me. I missed being around people and utilising the experiences and knowledge I’d gained over the years.

So, I changed jobs again into my current role as a Regional Business Manager, where I’ve had the best of both worlds. I guess what I’m trying to say is I never knew what a work-life balance was – I’d spent the last 15 years hands-on, managing services and always putting others first.

Now, I love being able to do the school runs, taking my kids to their afterschool clubs and spending the majority of my weekends with family. Not being on call as much and not having to go to work on days off are huge benefits!

I’ve also explored other opportunities, including:

All of these have allowed me to connect with people in the sector, raise awareness and provide support.

Looking to the future

Now, here’s the part where you come in.

I know it can be difficult to stop, reflect and see what’s happening around you. But I urge you to spend some time with your family and evaluate what’s important to you. Once you’ve done that, put steps in place either personally or work-wise to ensure a healthier work-life balance. Remember, you have to look after yourself as the number one priority.

Going into 2022, I hope to continue supporting others and help raise the profile of social care:

  • I want to spend time with registered managers to highlight how they can take small steps for themselves, recoup and ultimately have a better work-life balance.
  • I want to work with those who’ve left the sector to understand their reasons, what could have prevented this and to try and encourage some back.

I wish every single one of you a very Merry Christmas and a great start to the New Year. See you on the other side!

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