Adam Purnell /

August 2022

My “Walking Stick” Moment


This is my first blog for Delphi so instead of delving straight into the meaty subject matter and expanding world of social care, I thought I might take a minute to introduce you to, well me, but also to the ‘Walking Stick’ moment. 

So who am I? I’m Adam, ex registered manager for an elderly care setting and also a home care setting with 14 years direct care giving experience. I’m a podcaster, chat show host, John’s campaign advocate, social care consultant, a developing Stoic and a MASSIVE Trekkie!

I want to share with you my ‘Walking Stick’ moment. You’ll see why it’s called that shortly.

Picture it. A skinny (hard to imagine) 18-year-old, recently out, struggling to understand my own identity, and fresh of the hospitality boat after it had docked in social care land. My decision to venture into care was made few months prior after my dad had fallen ill. I was touched and inspired by the beautiful care he was receiving. Under the pressure from society, my college lecturers, my family, to take the route of university, I rebelled.

“No!” I exclaimed! “I’m off to make a real difference.”

Little did I know that, although I would make a difference, the people I supported and social care as a whole would make the bigger difference to me.

One week in and I experienced my first death. Theresa. 18 years old and already realising that one day I would be dead. I’ll die. Mortality. Terrifying. But Theresa’s death taught me the important role we all play in supporting someone’s final moments of life. It was somewhat comforting.

“I’ve cracked it.” I thought. “I know what social care is all about!”…Fool.

The following week I was chatting with Jack. We all compile mental lists of people who have made a difference in our lives. Parents, Friends, colleagues, Sarah Michelle Gellar in her buffy the vampire slayer female empowerment era, but how many of us have met someone who truly, radically, impacts us for the better?


Jack was my epiphany.

We were sat talking. Jack was talking, I was listening. Talking about how he had been shot down in a Spitfire during the war. I was enthralled. This little old man, whose Parkinson’s now made it difficult for him to walk, was rich with history. He was a hero.

“Buzzzzzzzzzzz” The nurse call buzzer began ringing.

“I’m sorry Jack” I said to him, “Let me go answer the call buzzer and I’ll be back to listen to the rest of your story.”. He looked at me, perplexed for a moment but his expression quickly shifted to one of anger and frustration. He reached out, armed with his walking stick, he stuck me on the head. What he said next, omitted expletives and all, will stick with me for the rest of my days.

“This isn’t a story, it’s my life”


He’s right. How had I failed to see him as anything less than a person. Jack is the reason I am where I am today. He is the daily reminder of why I do what I do.  

I told this story once and one of the listeners has since referred to is as a “walking stick moment”

I’d love to know what some of your walking stick moments are. Who was it that inspired or still inspires you? What was your epiphany about how amazingly wonderful it is to work in social care?

I’d love to explore them in future blogs or social media posts.

But take the term. Share it with your teams and your networks. Have it as a group activity or as part of your appraisals. If you have anything social care related that you would like me to write about. Please get in touch.

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