Level 3 Health and Social Care apprentice, Wayne Martin, is a therapeutic care worker in a Residential Childcare setting.
His heart is in practical jobs, starting as a shop fitter, before becoming a farmer and finally a carer. But caring is the career path that has brought him the most fulfilment.
In this interview, he describes the connection he sees between his own children and the children he cares for, his passion for life-long learning, and overcoming challenges to feel accomplished.
How did you get into working in care? Where did you start?
I had been a farmer for four years when one of my friends came to visit me on the farm. They were a deputy manager in a health and social care setting.
I was looking at a career change because of health reasons and he asked me if I wanted to try something different. He invited me to the induction training, then I was on probation for six months. That's how I got into my current role now.
It was a very big step and a completely different career for me. I would have never, ever thought that I would have done this sort of job. But I've been enjoying it for the time that I've been doing it.
Before you were a farmer, what did you do?
I did shopfitting all over the country. I spent a lot of time away and missed a lot of time with the kids growing up.
Do you like practical jobs?
Yes. But it’s nice to have home time now because I wasn’t used to being home.
Do you think your qualification allows you to have the best of both? With your home and work-life balance?
Yes. I do struggle sometimes if it's been a busy week at work. I might struggle to concentrate on doing my Level 3, but I've always caught up in time to get it done.
Did you do any qualifications before your Level 3?
I have done my Level 2 All Wales Foundation qualification. I did that while on probation. That's the only qualification I've got.
What has been the impact of Level 3 on your day-to-day job?
The whole qualification you do as a job role anyway. Everything that's in it you're doing daily!
The whole course involves everything you do in the care home, we use everything that's on there.
What kind of things do you study?
Health and safety. It is paramount that we look at the health and safety of not only the kids but yourself.
We also cover the duty of care, which is essential because of the children's backgrounds, they're all different. Plus the legal side of it, as well as safeguarding children. All the aspects of the course relate to your day-to-day role.
Did you have any barriers to your learning? What challenges you have faced so far?
Yes. When we started we were studying through Teams. I think there was three of us on a call with the assessor at 1 time.
I struggle to engage when there's too much going on, so I've had to go on one-to-one every two weeks with the assessor face-to-face, which has helped.
How is your relationship with your Training Advisor, Hayley Lewis?
She is brilliant. She has adapted everything around me so I feel comfortable, rather than: "You've got to do it this way and that's that". She's brilliant, really good.
What kind of things has she done to help you?
I was doing everything on my phone at the start, so she got me a laptop.
Then because I lose concentration quite easy and my reading and writing aren't very good, it was supposed to be monthly reviews, but she does every two weeks now.
If I struggle with anything I can contact her, and we go through it. She made me feel at ease and it's just easier for me to process what's happening.
What kind of skills have you learnt on this qualification?
Has your communication with the children improved?
Yes. I've learnt how to communicate with them, how to empathise with them and how to deal with them. I've also learnt a lot about myself whilst being in the role.
What have you learnt about yourself?
If I think I've got things hard, it's nowhere near what these kids have been through. I realise how lucky I am.
I can also sympathise with them because I haven't been an angel all my life.
I've had my problems and I can relate, so I can be being open and honest with him. I can tell them: "No one is perfect".
We've all had problems. It might not be the same problem, but similar problems if it is learning or behaviour problems. It’s how you deal with them and manage them that matters.
It gives them a goal. If they can see someone else has moved on and got over their problems, they know there is a goal.
Do you think learning on the job gives them something to aspire to?
Yes of course.
You don't stop learning, you're learning all your life and I say to them: "I'm 38. I’ve got no qualifications; this is the only qualification. I left school at 14 to go and work, so I'm still learning now. I'm still doing qualifications the same as they’re in school doing their GCSEs. You’re learning as you grow older."
It is doable. Don't think you're there and that is that. It's how you manage and how you move forward.
You can be what you want to if you set your mind to it. Be dedicated and you will achieve what you want in time.
How are you getting on with your Level 3 qualification?
I haven't long started it. I've finished all the upskills and I'm just starting the first part of it.
Have you had any achievements so far?
I passed all my upskills, the All Wales Foundation Level 2 and I seem to be on target.
My problem is, I struggle with retaining information. If I see it written on a piece of paper, I find it hard to see what it is. When Hayley explains it, I tend to get it straight away because I can relate it to my work.
If I had done Level 3 before I could move forward, I wouldn't have been very good at it.
But being on the job means you're not revising while you're working. It's in your practice. I can relate to it, and I find that easier.
Do you enjoy your job?
I do love the job. It's brilliant because I've brought up four kids of my own, and then my partner has two more.
Our boy is autistic and we've gone on a lot of free courses through the council to deal with behaviour, a bit of ABA therapy and sign language.
There are a lot of kids in our care setting that have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or are on the spectrum. What I've learnt outside of work helps me as well.
I've got that much more experience because I deal with it every day anyway at home. I tend to help others at work as well.
Would you ever go back to farming after this?
No. I'd miss a lot of family time. I was doing 123 hours a week and when I got home, and everyone was in bed. Then I was leaving, and everyone was still in bed. I missed a lot of family time.
Do you think this job role and qualification gives you happiness?
Yes, and it has also made me appreciate family. There is more to life than money. Money isn't everything. Family time and happiness are priceless. People worry about money and all, but I'm different now. I prefer family time to money anytime.
What's your aim for the future? What are your next steps?
I would like to see myself being a deputy manager. I would like to see myself passing the manager's role qualification, but I don't think I'd like that job role. It seems to be a lot of pressure. But a deputy manager, I'd love to see myself as a deputy manager in years to come.
How was your apprenticeship experience with TSW?
It was brilliant. I can't thank Hayley enough for what she has done for me so far. She has been really, really, really good.
She has accommodated my learning struggles and put things in place to make it easier for me, which worked.
I've really enjoyed this conversation, and I hope it helps others out.