SANDRA SHAWCROSS – SERENITY STATION
I began my career in the NHS from 1994 at the age of 20 and have worked in some interesting and challenging roles, some of which have been highly pressured and at times very stressful. I started on the patient transport services, which involved taking care of patients of all ages and differing mobility who required ambulance transport to and from various non-emergency hospital outpatient appointments, admissions and discharges.
In 1997 I trained as a Vocational Driving Attendant responsible for driving an emergency ambulance working and supporting Paramedic’s as part of the crew. I then progressed to an Emergency Ambulance Technician managing and taking clinical responsibility for patients in emergency situations. This was a very rewarding job knowing you have made a difference in life-threatening and urgent situations, working as part of a team and caring for both patients and their family members. There were however some very sad and stressful situations that took its toll over the years.
I fell pregnant in 2001 and due to the nature of the emergency role, I was taken off front line duties temporarily. After the birth of my son in 2002 and my daughter in 2004, I made the decision to continue my career working in several management roles including resource management and commercial training team within EMAS. In 2009 I began a three-year course and completed an MBA at Derby University whilst still working. During this time a restructure within the service took place and I was given the role of Chemical Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Lead for the Trust, managing the Special Operations Response Team who would be utilised in the event of chemical spillages or major incidents across the region.
Working in this role I was also on call as the Silver Commander for specialist incidents such as airport emergencies, firearms incidents, major trauma and large-scale incidents. In 2014 I was promoted to Service Improvement and Innovation Manager, which I found both rewarding and challenging focusing on project work and a lot of report writing. In the final years I a trained as a pastoral care worker within the service to support staff through both personal and work-related concerns.
Over many years of working in management, the knock-on effect psychologically of being a perfectionist took its toll. I worked extremely long hours alongside being on call as well as competing a master’s degree. Alongside all of this I still had to manage personal family issues and several deaths both in the family and at work, which all impacted on my own health and wellbeing. A combination of anxiety, tiredness and being overwhelmed for many reasons had led to a lack of confidence and a period of mental health concerns and taking antidepressants (although I would never have admitted this at the time due to a fear of being a failure).
On a personal level, I missed the hands-on caring approach with patients (the original reason for joining the Ambulance Service). I had always had an interest in complementary therapies especially aromatherapy and considered this as a career option many years ago. When I had received treatments myself, I always left feeling disappointed as they appeared rushed with more focus on selling products and booking the next treatment rather than showing a genuine concern and care for clients. Following on from several counselling and mentoring sessions in 2014, I took the decision to retrain and qualify as a Complementary Therapy Practitioner.
I researched several training courses that had to fit around my life, which wasn’t easy. It had to be adult learning and run at the weekend as I worked fulltime and had young children. I finally began my training with Sue Masters and her amazing team at Infinity Training Academy in Melbourne September 2014.
In July 2016 I left my full-time role at EMAS and officially registered Serenity Station in September 2016. I worked for thirteen months at a local salon to gain experience and general knowledge of the industry and in 2017 I took the decision to be a full-time home-based salon, creating the right space and environment with complete flexibility, working around my family life.
I am now a fully qualified, skilled, knowledgeable and experienced Complementary Therapies Practitioner and have one member of staff working at the home-based salon and hope to recruit another shortly. We offer a wide range of treatments including:
Full Body Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Aromatherapy Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Heated Bamboo Massage, Thermal Auricular Therapy (ear candling) Indian Head Massage, Pregnancy Massage, Reflexology, Holistic Facials and Reiki.
Within the home-based salon, I personally specialise in pregnancy massage and offer a Serenity Mums group with bimonthly coffee mornings that offer informal support. Alongside this I have a Facebook group to engage, communicate and share any hints and tips during and after their pregnancy in relation to health and well-being matters for both mum and baby.
Over the last two years I have used my clinical, management and business experience skills to focus on building the Serenity Station branding with our Wellness in the Work Programme. Building on from being solo, I now have access to a large team of Complementary Therapy Practitioners who work with Serenity Station.
The team offer bespoke packages to small, medium and large companies working with all levels of staff. We provide Practitioners for all types work environments, local events, shows and exhibitions. This has led to securing work at several wellbeing events and I am pleased with our continuous growth across the East Midlands. We offer our services to a variety of workplaces including schools, NHS Trusts, educational establishments, corporate offices and charities.
We also provide complementary therapies to cancer patients and will be expanding our skill set to support these clients even further over the next few months alongside working with palliative care patients.
I am extremely proud of the brand that we have developed in providing a unique high quality, unrushed service by taking the time to listen and understand client’s individual needs and tailoring their treatments holistically. I have a long-term strategic plan in growing the business, looking at integrated healthcare initiatives over the next few years with lots of exciting opportunities ahead.
This is a fantastic vocation and it is great knowing that you can support and guide clients in managing their existing clinical conditions and help promote their overall health and wellbeing, physically, psychologically and emotionally. My advice for anyone thinking of going into the industry is don’t undervalue yourself, understand your pricing structure and charge accordingly as you will have spent many hours studying and gaining your qualifications. Remember the transformation you can genuinely make to clients and signposting when required as they may need other specialist advice.
Don’t underestimate the importance of self-care, make sure you take time for yourself, we often as practitioners don’t practise what we preach, the role can be very physical and emotional at times with long hours. Many don’t realise it’s not just the treatments, time needs to be planned in your daily routine for administration, managing the accounts, stock, planning social media, advertising, networking, training, general cleaning and even the laundry!
I am a strong believer in supporting the younger generation. It is important for me to be a great role model and be open to guiding them where I can as they can sometimes be overlooked for a variety of reasons and miss the opportunity to shine. Savvy Social is a fantastic way to contribute and show my support to students in being exposed to the social media industry nurturing their talent, naturally.
CONTACT SANDRA @ SERENITY STATION
3 Woods Meadow, Elvaston, Thulston, Derby, DE72 3UX
Monday: Saturday: 9am – 8pm
Sunday: 12pm – 6pm