Stephanie McAleese’s Journey: From Carer to Regional Manager, Empowering Lives through Connected Health, and Inspiring Others to Make a Difference
The Social Care – Making a Difference Initiative is delivered by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, launched two weeks ago. Mum of three Stephanie McAleese from Limavady, is one of more than 38,000 social care workers in Northern Ireland, setting out on her career with Connected Health just under seven years ago. She is now a regional manager, leading a team of 190 care assistants and three area managers. “I originally worked in a butcher counter and being able to establish positive relationships with elderly customers, I wanted to take this to the next level and be a carer in the community,” she explains. “There is nothing more rewarding than knowing I am helping someone remain in the comfort of their own home.
“To be able to put a smile on someone’s face every day, by helping them enjoy the little things in life is one of life’s greatest achievements.” Connected Health was her first care job, and within two weeks, she knew it was the right career for her. “More importantly, to believe in a vision, to be part of something revolutionary, that challenged the status quo of health care, that’s when I knew”, she says. “When I get up in the morning and put my uniform on, I know what I do is making a difference, and to work in a workplace that promotes safe and effective care and puts the service users at the forefront of what we do. “Even on bad days, I know that I am helping someone, I know that someone I am going to care for wishes that they could turn back time and do some things different, it makes me appreciate the things I have.”
Alongside healthcare professionals, social care workers are the backbone of society, keeping people safe and well at home. With more than 38,000 registered, it makes social care the largest segment the largest segment of the health and social care workforce in Northern Ireland. “My role is to support and assist the area managers for each area to ensure we are delivering the highest standard of care for our clients. “I liaise daily with next of kins, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists and key stakeholders,” explains Stephanie.
“Some people think we just make tea and leave again, our role is so much more. We are the people keeping hospital beds free, the role of the carer is evolving every day, with bigger expectations and bigger responsibilities, but we evolve every day and adapt to new challenges. “One of the biggest misconceptions within health and social care is that it’s an unskilled role, this is untrue, to be a carer you are required to be resilient and motivated, and you must have a desire to help others. “We are not an unskilled workforce, we are a highly trained, efficient workforce that is consistently developing, training, learning and reflecting to ensure our clients receive the service we promise to deliver.”
The initiative’s launch kicks off a summer-long campaign of activity, celebrating the vital contribution social care workers make to the community, and highlights how fulfilling a professional role in social care can be “The role that I am in has taught my children to be resilient, and have a real caring nature,” explains Stephanie of the impact of her job on her children. “A lot of my kids’ compassion comes down to them hearing me speak about my day at work and how we as a company treat and respect people. “The (children’s) teacher at school chats about how kind and caring the ‘wee McAleeses are’.
“I would also like to think the added values Connected Health have taught me I pass on to my children, such as empathy and nurturing.” Her advice for anyone interested in pursuing a role in the industry is to choose your organisation wisely. “I had a clear career path, from carer to regional manager. “It’s so important to know that the organisation you work for will invest in you as an individual to provide you with the skillset and resources to continue professional development.
“Our job is so rewarding knowing that every day we turn up at work, we are making a difference to our client’s lives.”