We talk to Karen Randell, Podiatrist and Clinical Director at Randell’s Footcare, about children’s foot health and some useful tips on caring for children’s feet during lockdown.
Hi Karen, tell us a little about your background and how you become a podiatrist?
I have been a working podiatrist for almost 30 years, following an earlier nursing qualification. I studied at the University of Brighton and after graduating, I set up practices in East Sussex and Kent with my husband. When our children came along we decided to relocate to my home county of Norfolk. We set up our first clinic in Norfolk in 2004 and the business has grown from there.
What made you choose a career in the health care industry?
I first trained as a nurse and while working on surgical wards where people were having leg amputations due to poor foot care, I realised that there was a real need for preventative foot health out in the community. My husband worked as a technician in operating departments, so he was aware of this too, and we trained together on the same course. Our son Aidan is now in his second year of the podiatry degree course in Manchester and will eventually join the family business, and our daughter is also involved but in more of a business development role having graduated from the University of East Anglia a couple of years ago.
What surprised you most about podiatry when you were training?
How much I enjoyed the satisfaction of solving people’s painful feet issues that were preventing them from enjoying life. Also working with patients that were otherwise fit and healthy and happy to listen and take my advice.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I generally start my clinics at 9am. We are now allowing more time for each appointment so that there is minimal cross-over of patients - this has made for a much more relaxed working day. We finish clinics generally around 4.30pm. Some days are taken up with staff training and meetings, which often allow me to work from home.
What inspires and motivates you in your job?
For me it’s knowing the importance of good foot health in enabling people to lead active lives; working with a young and motivated team of fellow podiatrists and with other health clinicians, such as physiotherapists and holistic practitioners. Plus having such bright, airy and well equipped clinical locations to work from and being able to live in a really super county such as Norfolk.
You recently worked with Start-Rite on the launch of our Feet are Fantastic hub. Tell us why you wanted to get involved in our campaign?
I have always admired Start-Rite from my childhood days. I have been impressed with the amount of research and development that the company performs, and the care taken in the design and fit of every pair of children’s shoes. As a working podiatrist I am only too aware of the importance of good fitting children’s shoes as the majority of the adult foot problems stem from previous childhood shoe issues. And from a mother’s point of view, I am aware of how difficult this can seem at times so wanted to help make this an easier task.
What problems do you find the most common in children’s foot health?
To name a few: verrucae, in-growing toenails, curly toes, fungal issues with nails and athletes’ foot.
Foot care is so important from such a young age. What advice do you have for parents on keeping their children’s feet healthy during lockdown?
I would say regularly checking to see if the feet have any of the problems mentioned above. It doesn’t take long for a quick visual examination. Make sure that the feet are washed daily, that the skin is soft and there are no areas of rub caused by the shoes and that the socks are not too tight and are fresh each day. Generally in lockdown, children spend much less time in outdoor shoes and so parents need to be aware that when they do put their shoes on again, the fit is still good. Also look at the shoes for excessive signs of wear and tear; that the heel counter is still strong and that any laces, buckles or rip-tape fastenings are still intact.
How do you balance your work and family life?
Sometimes with great difficulty, as running a business right now has its ups and downs! I do have to make a point of closing my laptop down before the evening starts.
How do you like to relax at the weekends?
One great thing about living close to the coast is that I can walk my two dogs regularly on the beach and cliff tops - this has felt amazing during lockdown. I’d also like to say I paint, but as yet I haven’t found time to open my easel this year!
And finally, what advice would you have for anyone who is interested in becoming a podiatrist?
Do it! Podiatry is one of the most rewarding, interesting, and essential professions out there. My only regret is that I didn’t take it up until after a nursing career!