We spoke to one of EMED Community Care’s Community Transport Assistants who, along with a colleague, transports a child – Alfie – with epilepsy and additional needs on the school run every day. So what is it like being on the road, in the community, helping young people access education? Here Julie shares her motivations for working in the community care sector as well as the most enjoyable aspects of the role…

What did you do before joining EMED Community Care?

I was a beauty therapist.

What was it like making the switch from that to EMED Community Care?

Well, it was a complete switch of careers, although I had worked with elderly people before at Age UK, when I went round to people’s houses and made sure that they were OK. I carried out everyday tasks for them and provided a cuppa and company! Then I had to look after my mum for about two years. Actually, I had always wanted to work in the care industry. When EMED offered me this job I was really pleased because I love being out on the road and making a difference in the community.

What skills did you bring to the job?

Caring for my elderly mum taught me so much… I think of myself as a very caring person, and although I tend to be at the front of the minibus driving, I still care about what’s actually going on with Alfie and his care during the journey, as well as his school day. Caring for my mum gave me some transferrable skills, too.

Tell us more about your role

I am an assistant driver. I drive a child from his home to the school he’s at and do the journey in reverse in the afternoon. Alfie has epilepsy and a number of other conditions, and he is nonverbal. If he has a seizure, I have to stop and offer support to him and my colleague who is caring for him before driving off again. It’s a responsible job, but I absolutely love it. I have to have my wits about me the whole time I am at work.

What kind of training did your career require?

I underwent four days of training, which included learning about the company, a driving assessment, and first aid. The training was really in-depth. Initially, I felt really apprehensive, but that was soon allayed as the training progressed and I learned more about the role and what it entailed.

What skills are required in your daily work?

Good driving skills are obviously very important, but so are elements of the first aid training that I had… You must always be aware of everything that’s going on around you, inside and out of the minibus. The rush hour traffic sometimes takes some negotiating!

What do you enjoy most about working for EMED Community Care?

I love being on the road. Also, you get to know the person you are driving around. Alfie is adorable! I also love the connection and camaraderie with my colleagues.

And the most challenging part?

Sometimes, it can be stressful if the person I am driving has a medical incident, but at the end of the day, you still have to abide by the rules of the road – speed limits and things – you can’t just put your foot down or suddenly stop if it’s not safe to do so. I actually really like challenges! One of my strengths is that I can stay calm in difficult circumstances

What is your team like at EMED Community Care?

The team are very helpful. I really like all of my colleagues and if I have any issues, I can just call my managers or anyone at the Aerodrome base. Everyone is so supportive.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I get up at about 6am and head out about 7am. I get to Alfie at 8.20am, board him, and take him to school for 9ish. The same process is repeated in the afternoon. I have a part-time job in between times, which works well. Part of the routine is handing over all Alfie’s medication to the school team. I have built a real rapport with the school and with nurses – we all form one big team.

Have you learned anything new since you started?

Time keeping! It’s so important! I have also learned so much from being out and about with Alfie and our relationship has really grown. It’s such an enjoyable job.

What do you wish you would have known about your job before starting?

EMED were quite clear on what the job entailed so there were no real surprises. For this job you need to be confident with driving. Yes, confident and caring.

Anything else you’d like to share?

EMED is a really nice company to work for. If there are any issues, there is always someone at the end of the line.