I loved it so much I changed careers

Claire Abbott, Carer at Audley Sunningdale Park

Claire Abbot had spent 30+ years working with children in a school environment, when her parents started exploring the prospect of moving to a retirement village. Claire and her sister accompanied them on a visit to Audley Stanbridge Earls in 2022 and all loved it instantly.

Claire was so moved by the experience offered to older people living with Audley, that it inspired her to leave her career in childcare and embark on an Apprenticeship to become a carer for older people with Audley Villages.

What prompted you and your parents to look at retirement living options?

My parents wanted to be closer to my sister and I, and a luxury retirement village seemed like the ideal solution. My sister and I both attended the first visit, and what I loved most (aside from the obviously beautiful building and surroundings) was how the salesperson always directed her questions and answers to our parents, rather than to us. It always felt very respectful. There was no hard sell. Everything about the village felt welcoming.

How did you go from that visit to the decision to change careers?

I'd been working in a school for around 30 years, and I felt ready for a change. Experiencing life at Audley Stanbridge Earls got me thinking about how my skills may be transferable to care.

You started working as a Personal Care Assistant at Sunningdale Park in January 2023. What has been your experience?

My first impression of working here at Sunningdale Park was probably "Wow, this is really different." I felt totally out of my comfort zone, which I quite liked. 

I have been doing the care apprenticeship since the summer and expect to finish this summer. I feel so lucky that an Apprenticeship was an option at my age.

How are you finding it compares to your previous job?

Changing career at 50+ was daunting, but it's the best thing I ever did! 

Caring for someone is hard work but I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to work part time, and being only 1 hour from my parents new home in Romsey I am able to visit them more often, as opposed to only visiting outside of school hours previously.

happy owners at Audley Stanbridge Earls

Are your parents happy at Stanbridge Earls?

They love it. Mum loved it most and is really embracing life there. They only moved in a few months ago so they're still making it home.

What have you found the hardest part of your new role?

You have to be kind, patient, and have a sense of humour. You also need to be flexible and think on your feet. In that respect, it's similar to my previous role working with children, although there's more negotiation in my role now.

When I first considered elderly care, the thought of working in a nursing home or care home was daunting. I'm so glad I chose Audley Care instead. It's perfect for me (and for my parents). Domiciliary care was the ideal route in to elderly care for me.

Do you find you take your work home with you?

In a good way. I find myself thinking about clients when I am out and about - something they might like or would say. I love what I do now.

How has the Apprenticeship helped?

It enables me to put everything I'm learning into practice. I have a 1:1 with my tutor every month which keeps me on track, and I couldn't have done it without the support of the team here at Sunningdale Park. Lydia, Anne, and Saima have been an incredible support at a time when everything has been unfamiliar to me.

Do you have any regrets?

Absolutely not. It was really important for my sister and I to know that our parents were safe and happy, and close by. After each visit to their old house, I used to drive away with a lump in my throat, worrying. Now, I just wave merrily and know they're content and happy, and looked after when I'm not there.

And for me, I love my new career. No regrets.

How would you describe Audley?

Supportive and enabling. And from my parents perspective, 'luxurious'.

Audley Stanbridge Earls

Audley Stanbridge Earls, Romsey

Sitting in 32 acres of grounds, close to Romsey, in Hampshire is Audley Stanbridge Earls retirement village. Now open, the village has 155 cottages and apartments designed to complement the Grade II* Tudor Manor house at its centre.

Properties are available to own from £434,950* (other fees apply)

Audley Sunningdale Park, Ascot

Set in the village of Sunningdale, close to Ascot in Berkshire, historic Sunningdale Park spans 79 acres of gardens, lakes and extensive natural woodland.

Properties are available to own from £754,950* (other fees apply)

Considering a career in domiciliary care?

Get in touch with Audley Group about our vacancies and apprenticeship schemes.