Back in the 1990s, when Heather West swapped her work in retail management for a career in care, an early mentor had a profound effect on how she approached the job: she showed her that the key was to really listen to people’s stories, and learn about their amazing lives.
“All that people usually see is what the person can no longer do,” says Heather. “You need to look for the person they still are inside. That will help you understand what makes a difference to their life.”
Heather’s interest in the sector was sparked when her own mother became ill, and her family struggled to navigate the need for help from a variety of places. When an opportunity came up in care, she decided to take it. Decades later, she now has strategic responsibility for targeted and short-term care at Ceredigion County Council in Wales.
“Everyone in the organisation has a part to play”
The service she manages provides a range of interventions to get people back to full independence or bridge the gap to longer-term support. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lack of care resources and the cost-of-living crisis mean that, for many, those needs are more complex than ever before.
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“Enabling people to be at home, living the life they choose to live, requires a lot more coordinated services,” says Heather. “Teamwork is very important.”
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