Teigan Cruickshanks was 16 with dreams of being a beauty therapist when she found her real calling.

While studying beauty therapy at college, Teigan started work part-time as a kitchen porter to earn extra money.

The kitchen was at Balhousie Antiquary care home in Arbroath. Helping with meals for the residents, she got to know them and their different dietary needs. And she saw for herself the bonds that develop between residents and staff.

“I thought, that’s my job,” says Teigan, who approached the Home Manager about moving into a care role when she turned 18.

That was last year and Teigan, a Care Assistant, has gone from strength to strength. Having completed the mandatory training required by Balhousie Care Group, which has 26 facilities across six regions of Scotland, she now wants to embark on SVQ qualifications.

Balhousie Antiquary care home in Arbroath.

Like the rest of the care home sector, she has also navigated the extra challenges brought about by COVID-19. Coming to work during lockdowns helped her own mental health, says Teigan. “It helped that I had a job to come to. And working through the pandemic has brought everyone closer together as a team.”

Teigan, who is saving to move out of her parents’ home, regularly picks up extra shifts at Antiquary to boost her income. But while she sometimes helps out in the kitchen, it’s the care that she loves. “I like interacting with the residents. It can be lonely for them. Some of them don’t have family. So every chance I get I sit down with them and talk.” She also draws on her beautician skills to give residents pampering sessions and do their nails.

Teigan’s move into care has turned into a family affair; last year she persuaded her mum and her sister to apply for kitchen porters at Antiquary, and they were successful.

Her advice to job seekers is simple: “I would say try it and see. Working in care isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely where I want to be.”

Want to join Balhousie Care Group? Email careers@balhousiecare.co.uk or visit our Job Board at https://balhousiecare.co.uk/careers/careers-job-board/

Teigan still sometimes helps out in the kitchen