Q&A – With Mel Binks22/11/18
Mel is a warm and empathetic Care Consultant, with a can-do attitude, who builds strong carer and client relationships. She joined Consultus in 2016.
How did you first hear of Consultus?
A local recruitment agent found me the post of Care Consultant and, as I had driven past the lovely old Consultus building a number of times, had heard of the company. However, when my agent explained the role of Consultus, I knew the job was for me.
What initially attracted you to the role?
Sadly, my mother died of cancer in 2016. She knew the palliative care she wanted – to stay at home with her family around her and we were able to accommodate her wishes. In the process, I realised just how hard it was to arrange, and it opened my eyes to the predicament many people must have.
I realised with Consultus’ ethos I could do the same for people who may not have family around them, but who should have the option to make the last chapter of their life the best possible. This is my way of giving back and making life as good as it can be on one’s own terms, rather than someone else’s.
What did you do prior to joining us?
I had a career in the City of London, working for 18 years in recruitment and HR, across a wide variety of industries, most recently as HR and Recruitment Manager for one of the big international magic circle law firms, Slaughter and May, and also for the French international banking group, BNP Paribas. I then swapped city life for a husband and family in the country!
Your role is such a busy one - how do you relax when you leave the office?
I’m not sure I ever relax. Three children, three guinea pigs, two cats, eight chickens and a fish later – my son now wants a dog. I juggle this menagerie with working at Consultus and, as I have a huge interest in house and furniture renovation, spend most of my time renovating our beautiful 15th Century farmhouse. Something always needs mending, plastering or painting. As soon as I think I’m done something else falls off – I spent last weekend mending the guttering but I do have to leave the electrics to the ‘sparkies’!
However, I am a member of a book club and love a good book – my favourites are murder mysteries. I have a huge collection but my favourite authors are Agatha Christie, Dorothy Simpson and Ngaio Marsh. I’m often found with a book, coffee and cake.
What do you think are the attributes of a good carer?
I see many people new to caring and I believe the key to being a good carer is to choose the career for the right reasons. It’s a really tough job being a carer; patience and stamina are essential but good carers want to give quality of life to their clients – to them it is not about themselves, it’s about what they can give. If you have that mindset you are already a good carer. You can learn good skills but you can’t learn how to care – I think it’s an innate character trait. Very special people have that naturally and also have the generosity to give. So, if you do have it and have the determination to learn and continuously improve and update your skills, good care and a successful career will follow.
"This is my way of giving back and making life as good as it can be on one’s own terms, rather than someone else’s."
Do you have any advice for carers?
Think about what kind of person you would like to look after, take things slowly and prepare to be flexible. Work closely with the Care Consultants to find clients you work well with. It’s a huge job and you have to be able to juggle emotions, timing, running a household and care skills, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes a bit of time to settle into the job.
Where did you grow up?
My childhood was spent in Yorkshire – in a really friendly village on the edge of Ilkley Moor. Most of my family still live there and I miss them dreadfully, but I don’t miss the weather! When I moved, I realised just how warm it is in the south of England, how it never seems to rain or get as cold as it does in the north.
What did you study at university?
I studied economics and politics at university, gaining a BA (Hons) in Economics, but wasn’t keen to work as an economist. I spent some time selling doughnuts on a beach in the South of France, worked in a Yorkshire pudding factory briefly, for a chocolate manufacturer and also ran a call centre in Bucharest before moving into recruitment and HR in London. I love interacting with people and problem solving, and I also like food!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I used to love watching Dallas and yearned to be an international business woman with my own aeroplane and a big hat! I would have liked to have been a writer but soon discovered that I have absolutely no skills in that area. I also wanted an old farmhouse and a family – so at least some of my dreams have come true.
What was your best trip?
My best ever trip was to South Africa! My friends were married there, so we included a tour with our visit. We stayed in the Drakensberg mountains in a lodge in the middle of nowhere – with zebras and wildlife all around us! We travelled the Garden Route to Cape Town, spent time in Stellenbosch and then flew up to Kruger National Park. We had an amazing time. Just awesome. I would love to take the children one day but only once they are big enough not to get eaten by something!
If you were marooned on a desert island, what three luxuries would you take with you?
Most definitely chocolate, a good book and some gaffer tape (you can build just about anything with gaffer tape!)