"Knowing people feel safe and enjoy your company is wonderful."

It’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week and UHI Outer Hebrides, UHI North Highland and UHI West Highland are celebrating their talented modern apprentices and partnership with local employers.

Kareen Allen is currently a SCQF level 6 Social Services and Healthcare with UHI Outer Hebrides and Bethesda Care Home and Hospice.

Name: Kareen Allen

Apprenticeship: SCQF level 6 Social Services and Healthcare
Bethesda Care Home and Hospice

Why did you choose a Modern Apprenticeship: I had worked in retail for years and I had thought about changing my career. I had cared for members of my family and people have recommended a career in care to me.

Why did you choose a Modern Apprenticeship? I had been working in care for three years and wanted to progress my career.  Working in care is hard but so rewarding. I went in completely blind and I had to learn a lot in my first week. It was daunting but now I love it.

Do you have any scheduled classes as part of your MA? How do these take place (in-person/online) and how do they fit in with your working schedule? I come into college regularly and work with my lecturer Isobel. I am learning a lot and gaining confidence and learning more every day. I was so nervous about college at first, I was worried I wouldn’t keep up. Many of the other students are younger than me but we are really close as a class and we support each other and share experiences.

Now I prefer working on campus rather than home, it is a new environment for me, but exciting.

What do you think about the style of teaching and/or support you received from assessors/lecturers? Isobel, my lecturer, is so supportive! She often works one to one with me and she is focused on me and my needs. When she tells me I am doing well, it really boosts my confidence.

What challenges have you encountered during your apprenticeship and how did you overcome them?   I hadn’t used computers in so long, it was a challenge to get used to that side of things again. Also, caring for people at the end of their life can be so hard but I see the difference I make. Sometimes I see smiles on people’s faces and know I am helping them and that is the ultimate reward. I get to talk to people everyday and engage with them. Speaking Gaelic is so important for the people I care for. Using their native language to engage and build relationships with them is essential. Knowing people feel safe and enjoy your company is wonderful.

What are your next steps after completing your Modern Apprenticeship? I am working to gain all my qualifications and I will be staying at Bethesda for sure. I didn’t apply to work anywhere else. I see the amazing work the other staff do there, and I get to learn from them, and they are so supportive. I am learning from their experiences, and they are passing on their skills to me.

What advice would you give to those considering a Modern Apprenticeship? Go for it! Make sure you are ready for it, and you have the time to dedicate to it. I have learnt so much and expanded my knowledge and skills.

What has been the highlight of your Modern Apprenticeship?   You have moment where you doubt yourself and if you can do the work but then you gain more experience and grow in confidence. Every day is different.

Anything else you feel like telling us about your experience? It can be scary but it so worth it. It means a lot to be able to care for someone but when you see a big smile from someone you are caring for it is so satisfying.

Carol Somerville, Manager of Bethesda said. "Bethesda Care Home and Hospice has worked with the UHI for many years.   

The UHI has assisted our staff to achieve their SVQ qualifications in Care, both at Level 2 and also at Level 3.  This is essential as part of their registration with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).  Without this qualification Health Care Assistants are unable to continue their employment at the Care Home and Hospice. 

Our current staff working with UHI are undertaking their apprenticeship in Care, along with their SVQ qualification.  Staff are able to undertake the apprenticeship during their employment, allowing them to gain a qualification that demonstrates the work they carry out on a daily basis.  Through learning, the apprenticeship enables the staff to enhance their development, giving them a better understanding of policies and legislation.   

The apprenticeship also supports the apprentice to further develop their core skills such as communication, problem solving, numeracy and IT skills.  The UHI provides each apprentice with an assessor who supports and encourages them during the apprenticeship course. 

The apprentices are able to utilise the facilities at the UHI, which assists them to gain confidence in communication and IT skills. 

We have an excellent working relationship with the UHI and also provide placements for apprentices if applicable. 

The role of apprenticeships are vital to enable us to continue to provide a high standard of care in the Care Home and the Hospice."