A former Army sergeant has taken the top job at a Peterlee care home – after a career switch inspired by his ill nanna.
Dan Rigden has been appointed home manager at Bannatyne Lodge Care Home, on Manor Way, in a culmination of his nine-year career in care after leaving the armed forces in 2012.
He was inspired to pursue adult nursing after taking responsibility for his nanna’s care while still serving in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers corps – where he rose to the rank of sergeant.
He started as a home carer before becoming a care coordinator, when he successfully lobbied Durham County Council to increase the time that home carers could spend with those they cared for.
He then achieved a degree in adult nursing and mental health from Northumbria University while also working in the NHS during his studies.
After graduating, Dan became a deputy manager at a North East care home, later being promoted to support manager for numerous homes across the region.
In February 2021, he became home manager at Bannatyne Lodge Care Home, where he has already been getting know the residents.
He said: “Before I left the Army, my nanna became poorly and although there were carers visiting her I didn’t feel she was getting the care she deserved.
“I looked after her myself while holding down a full-time job but decided to change my career to see if I could make a difference in the care that was being offered to frail, elderly people, hoping to bring empathy and more resources.
“I love interacting with residents, learning about their history, and the stories they have to tell are fascinating. It’s a gift to be able to listen to them share their heritage, which is so important in our busy lives.
“The pandemic has highlighted the care sector and shown everyone the vital work that is done by care home staff, as well as raised awareness of their dedication and love of the people they care for.”