Jeanette Sewell’s story is a heart-warming tale of loyalty and longevity in a time when staff retention in the care sector faces many obstacles.
Jeanette began working in Essex social care in 1997 - the year that brought us the first Harry Potter book and our first Labour Government since the mid-70s. Now, a Community Care Assistant in ECL’s Mid Essex Reablement team, she is celebrating 25 years of working in social care, having been with ECL since its inception in 2009, and Essex County Council (ECC) before that.
She began her career in a home help role with ECC, and then moved over to the mental health team, a role which eventually became part of the reablement service under ECL’s contract. Jeanette is one of the original members of the ECL team when it took over the contract and was even part of the group that brainstormed to create our original heart logo design!
We’ve all seen a great deal of change during the time that Jeanette has worked as a carer in our mid-Essex community. We’ve experienced the growth of the internet and the rise of social media. In this time, the use of handheld smart technology and intelligent devices like iPhones, tablets and smart speakers has become the norm, and we’ve had a grand total of seven Prime Ministers!
Jeanette says that of all the challenges and changes she has seen in the last 25 years, the coronavirus pandemic was the most significant. She said: “The pandemic was a tough experience. It was a challenging time to be a carer, but I think that Covid-19 has made people more aware of what carers do and I think that this awareness and appreciation is one positive that has come out of such a terrible situation.”
Speaking about her time in the care sector Jeanette said: “I really enjoy working for ECL as a carer. I like meeting different people and find it very rewarding. The flexibility and the variety suits me. I like fact that I’m out in the community and not in one place all the time. The job has really fitted in with my life, first with my children and then with looking after my parents in later life. My dad is and I have switched to part-time hours so that I can look after him alongside his carers. Plus I’ve made some really nice friends in my colleagues over the years.”
With two years before she is eligible to retire, Jeanette says that while she will probably retire, she would like to do some part-time bank work rather than stop working completely, so that she can continue to help people.
When asked what advice she would give to the next generation of ECL carers she said: “Over the years I’ve learnt to never assume anything, every customer is different day to day so you should never assume. Take each day as it comes and enjoy the people. The customers are lovely and make it so rewarding. You develop a special relationship caring for them, they become an extension of your family and friends in a way. It is hard work but knowing that you’ve made a difference to them provides great job satisfaction.”
Jeanette sets an amazing example to everyone who is just starting out on their career path in social care. We’d like to wish her many congratulations on her 25 year work anniversary and say a big thank you for her loyal service!
As an employer, ECL works hard to retain talented people like Jeanette for the long-term. We’re really proud of the fact that our staff retention is better than most in our sector. We understand that pay is only one piece of the puzzle and, in addition to offering some of the highest hourly rates in the county, we also pay front line staff travel time, provide generous mileage reimbursement, a flexible and supportive working environment, ample opportunities for career development, and have a great health and wellbeing scheme.