Community Practitioner Estelle Dodd was inspired to become a social worker after a positive experience of the care her dad received.

Part of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), Estelle works in a post diagnosis dementia team in Northumberland. Her dad was diagnosed with dementia, which sparked her interest.

After working in admin roles for many years, Estelle decided it was time for a career change. “I wasn’t satisfied in my job and wanted to do something more rewarding,” she explained.

Estelle qualified as a social worker in 2002 and began working in a community mental health team, where she worked until 2015.

“The then integrated team I was in de-integrated, and I moved into social care but missed the more rewarding parts of my job,” she said. “I wanted my work to be centred around mental health and therapeutic activities rather than care management.”

After having a baby, Estelle took a career break but says she missed the people side of social work.

“When I saw CNTW were recruiting social workers into mental health teams, I was amazed,” Estelle said. “The best part of social work is the people. You can make a positive impact, which is so rewarding.”

Estelle now works into a team supporting people who have had a recent dementia diagnosis and their families and carers. The support is delivered in groups or one-to-one in people’s homes. The team is made up of a number of professionals working closely with voluntary sector organisations and partners.

Estelle finds working as a social worker in a mental health trust very different to other organisations. “Working in a mental health trust is a lot more holistic,” she said. “You have the opportunity to work closely with people from different professions, so you can bounce ideas and knowledge from each other. Having social workers in healthcare teams brings a different perspective.”

Estelle has some advice for people considering a career in social work. “It’s really important to work in an area you’re passionate about. I would also say you need to look after yourself and your colleagues. It’s a very rewarding but challenging job so you need to learn to not take work home with you and remember to look after your own wellbeing.”

For Estelle, she says it’s great to see CNTW raising the flag for social work. “I’m delighted to see the Trust recruiting social workers and recognising what we have to offer in terms of knowledge and therapeutic skills.”

CNTW is a leading provider of mental health and disability services in the North East and north Cumbria.