Working in Care Stories: Deana

My name is Deana, and I am a residential manager for Progress. I have been working with children and young people in residential care for approximately 13 years. 
I have seen a lot of young people come and go, but one young person will remain in my thoughts and heart for a long time.  

I remember going to visit David, at school, in 2014. He was taking part in a school play rehearsal where the song ‘Running Bear’ was being played. I was introduced, by name, to the class and over he came to me with a feather in his hand, placed it in my hair and then stroked my cheek and chin saying, ‘nice beard’.  

I just knew from that moment on I could work with David and make a difference in his life.  

The care package started off with help in the community, then onto shared care over the weekends and then with him finally coming into residential care full time. 

Don’t get me wrong things were not always easy and routines and schedules didn’t always go to plan. We had our up’s, which there were many and we also had our down’s. 

Days out with the family were very difficult and so did not happen often. I remember taking David to the theatre to see his first live musical, Mamma Mia. He absolutely loved it. David was standing up in the audience singing and dancing. I remember crying that day! He then went on to see many theatre productions. He used to love going to the cinema, shopping, bowling, and eating out. I remember taking him to a local restaurant and his favourite pudding was chocolate fudge cake. No matter how many dinners David had there was always room for pudding. 

David was introduced to the local church, where he would attend the monthly coffee mornings. He would go and have his breakfast, buy cakes, and raffle tickets and always managed to win. He won the hearts of all those that attended. I would sometimes meet him down there on my days off and he would sit with my baby holding him and once asked for a photo of them together. Did I get too close I can hear you saying, probably yes, I did, but then I would not be doing my job if I didn’t. 

He made such progression with us at Progress Care and grew up into a lovely young man. David made me proud to want to take him out. He was a funny, caring and an entertaining young man when he was having a good day. Like I said, things didn’t always go to plan and he would display behaviours that challenged but this was part of the progression for him. 

David turned 18 in 2020 and moved into an adult living provision which would help to further his progression. He will be missed by a lot of staff as well as myself. David made some terrific memories not only for himself but the staff that worked with him.  Especially those who took him out on activities, on holidays or those who cared for him in the house, he was something special. 

I always said when I first came into the care sector, if I can help just one person then my job is done. The only problem is you never stop at just one, its infectious to continue helping the young people that come into our homes. 

I have always said that for me, working with children and young people in residential care is not a job it’s a vocation. 

Inspired by Deana’s experiences? Why not apply for a role at Progress today!

Progress recognised with award for Covid work

Progress was named winner of Outstanding Support During Covid-19 category at the 2020 Best Business Awards.

We have been recognised for our approach to the nationwide lockdown caused by Covid-19 in March 2020.

As lockdown came into force, Progress prioritised the care of those that relied on us for critical support. We assigned drivers, offering a ring-and-ride service to our workforce to eliminate the use of public transport and minimise the exposure risks. Progress also offered a triage service to families, to deal with any crisis that might arise and made available some flats as isolation units (and offered that resource to local authority partners).

Progress has been able to keep all residents and staff safe; continue to provide essential services to families and challenge our creativity. Our community team started digital support sessions with young people, engaging in online training on anything from e-safety to managing anxiety, providing families with support and young people with consistency. Progress staff and young people have engaged with the measures we put in place and coped exceptionally well through what has been an uncertain and anxious time, adapting and responding to the constantly shifting sands.

The BBAs pride themselves on having a large panel of independent expert judges who select winners according to strict criteria for each category and sector.

Commenting on Progress, the winner in the Outstanding Support During Covid-19 category, the chairman of the judges said: “After seeing the devastation Coronavirus was causing in Italy earlier in 2020, Progress was quick to lock down earlier than other care homes to protect its vulnerable residents both young and old. Non-essential visitors were asked not to attend care homes, virtual forms of communication were set up so residents could keep in touch with loved ones, and community staff were reassigned to other roles such as drivers, helping staff to avoid public transport. Congratulations to Progress Care for having the foresight to act quickly and keep people safe.”

Upon receiving the Award, Claire Rogers, Managing Director of Progress said:

“We always pride ourselves on providing high quality care and support, but this has been even more important throughout the Pandemic, with the additional challenges this presented. Keeping our core values at the heart of our decision making has been our strength, providing a fixed point from which to navigate. It is wonderful to have been recognised for the outstanding support we have provided during this difficult time.”

The Best Business Awards are one of the UK’s highest profile awards and winning this accolade speaks volumes about the quality of your organisation. Due to its high profile, the Awards attract a wide range of entries from across all sectors from large international PLCs and public sector organisations to dynamic and innovative SMEs.

Working in Care Stories: Marie

Marie is a support worker at Progress’ children’s residential home, Henley Lodge in Coventry.
What led her to apply and work for Progress? This is her story.

I have been working for Progress since March 2020 – my first job in 15 years.

“15 years?” you say? Let me take you back to the beginning of my story.

In 2004 I gave birth to my first child, my little boy. However, things did not go to plan, and there were complications. My son was born with Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy, and by the time he was seven months old, he had to have a peg fitted to enable him to take food. He was also doubly incontinent, so I became his full-time carer.

Sadly, in April 2019, my son passed away.

I struggled with the loss of my son as well as losing my identity. All I’d known for the past 15 years had gone with him, but I knew I still had the desire to help children and young people.

So, when I saw the Support Worker’s job at Progress advertised, I wondered if this was something I could do. I had no care qualifications, but I did have 15 years of experience looking after my son.

Despite the uncertainty, I attended a Progress recruitment day. This gave me the chance to learn more about the organisation and the role. I applied, and after an interview, I was offered a job as a support worker.

At first, it was scary, but as the weeks went on, I felt relaxed in what I was doing.

Looking back at things, having this new job has helped me with my grief. I am busy doing what I know and love – supporting children and putting a smile on their faces.

Working for Progress has been the best thing I have done.

Are you inspired by Marie’s story? A career in care awaits you. Start your journey by clicking here to apply for a job at Progress.

Growing up in foster care: Stephanie

Growing up in foster care is not easy for some children. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the carer to create an atmosphere for a child to feel loved.

We asked Stephanie to share her experiences of fostering and tell us what it’s like to be in a new home.

In your foster placement, what are your favourite things?

I get to go to the park and take part in a lot of activities. I have so much fun riding on the rowboats, playing tennis and running around the track.

I told my carers that I love to read, so they bought me a lot of books. My favourite is BFG. My bedroom is a comfortable place for me to read and play. I also got to choose how I wanted to decorate my room. The room is full of teddy bears and other things that make me happy.

Do you feel encouraged and supported to do well at school? 

I get a lot of help with my homework. My foster carers always encourage me, so that when I am older, I can be whatever I want to be. Whenever I need support on certain subjects, I get it. I take part in a lot of after school activities such as extra English and maths lessons, as well as dance, karate, swimming and ballet classes.

What help do you get in difficult times?

I always sit and talk to my foster carers and ask them for help when I feel down. I enjoy my support sessions with my support worker too. I can now understand my feelings much better and learn why certain things happen.

What things are important to you, when living with a fostering family?  

They find out what children need to make them feel comfortable, like a teddy bear or a hug. I always like it when my foster carers sit with me and watch TV.

A foster carer should also encourage children to do things that they have not done before. This will make the foster child feel special, happy and loved.

If a family were thinking about fostering, what advice would you give them? 

Be kind and loving.

Ready to make a positive impact in a child’s life? Click here for more information

Lockdown experiences: young people

The lockdown has been challenging for all of us. With our daily routines changing – and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future – we are now living different lives.

We spoke to two young people on their lockdown experiences, how they have coped and their hopes for the future.

“I have felt I felt a few mixed emotions during the lockdown. Not being able to see my family or hug them has been hard. However, I have remained connected with them and my friends by using video chat. This has made me less anxious and much happier. I have used video chat so much!

When the lockdown began, I was dreading the thought of being stuck indoors. The support workers have helped keep me entertained, by playing board games like Monopoly with me – this has been so much fun. I have also watched many different TV programmes and films and played on my Xbox.

I cannot wait until this is all over, so I can carry on doing the things that make me happy.”

Alex

———————————————————

“Although I have not been able to go outside, my family have visited me regularly. I speak to them through my bedroom window, as we must keep socially distant. Because of this, it has not been so difficult.

I do miss my friends. Hopefully, when this is over, we can meet up.

From completing my schoolwork to playing on my PS4, I have been doing a lot. The support workers have helped me draw, bake cakes and cook. I especially enjoyed making curries and buffalo wings.

I have also been watching Manchester United games on the TV with the other young person I live with.

If we listen to the advice from the experts then hopefully, this will be over soon.”

Sami

What does a Supervising Social Worker do?

A supervising social worker supports and guides a foster carer in every aspect of their fostering experience. We spoke to Progress supervising social worker Tendai to get an insight on her role.

It is my responsibility to develop a close working relationship with our pool of foster carers. On any given day, I can be leading, coaching, and empowering foster carers to be the best carers they can be.

Whether we are helping carers with their form F assessments or preparing them for the panel presentation, the role of a supervising social worker is a busy one!

Caring for carers

A supervising social worker must have an emotional investment in the lives of their foster carers. If a foster carer wishes to let something off their chest, I am here to listen and advise. When a carer tells me of a problem, I often find there are solutions. Helping a carer, will not only make them feel better but allows them to focus on their foster child.

Training for carers

A foster carer with the right training and support will be able to have a stable placement and ensure better outcomes for a child. I recently worked with carers to identify the training they required to support a child with complex disabilities.

The couple and wanted to be in the best possible position to help the child and were hungry to learn.

Foster carers tend not to have any formal qualifications and instead use their skills and experiences to support those in their care. However, if you care for a child with specific needs, you will need the training to help them.

The training I placed them on was personalised and delivered in a variety of ways. From face-to-face group training to individual online training, the aim is always to make learning fun and informative for the carers.

Working with others

Though primarily my role is about foster carers and children and young people, the relationships I build and the support I provide extends beyond that.

Through positive relationships with foster carers and other professionals, specifically the local authority social worker (s), foundation agreements are made, and expectations laid out.

We all have the same goals, without which, there can be a disruption for a child or young person.

The future

One of the biggest challenges I find is the lack of foster carers locally (and nationally). It is heart-breaking to know that there are children and young people out there waiting for a loving couple to support them.

We need more carers to contribute to the incredible work our foster carers are doing.

No matter what your role is in the Progress foster team, we all have one goal – to ensure the children and young people in our care have positive life outcomes. I feel humbled to be trusted with supporting children, young people, and their carers. It is a privilege to make a positive impact on all their lives.

5 minutes with…Darrell  

The Support Worker at Nightingale House, on working in mental health, training, and why team work is important.

I used to work for Derby Mental Health Trust as a health care assistant. My job was to support people who had different mental health issues. I learned very quickly that at the beginning of each shift, I had to have an open mind and adapt to all manner of situations.

I used to work for a major car manufacturer. It was neither enjoyable nor rewarding. You get to a point in life where you feel you’re just going through the motions, and I wanted more out of my career.

After a three-year break, I was back working in care.  I was one of the first members of staff recruited at Nightingale House. The first day was quite daunting, but I was equally excited to be starting this journey.

I took part in a lot of training. A two-week block got me up to date with all the mandatory training needed to do the job – this was before even the first resident arrived.

I love working with young adults. When you build a rapport and trust with another person, you can achieve great things. It really makes my job worth doing when I can see a young adult smile in joy.

Working at Nightingale House is like having a second family. I love those little moments when we cook for the residents, and everybody is in the kitchen playing music and enjoying themselves. All the staff work hard to maintain this type of atmosphere.

Keeping up with all the regulations is hard work. Policy and procedures change all the time, so you must make sure your work is above board. These are communicated to us, so that helps.

Everyone here feels valued as a team. We see the results of the work we do with young adults quite quickly. I know of friends in other jobs who are far removed from their work’s impact, which can make things monotonous. At Progress, you do not wait to see the payoff.

You can bring a lot of life experience to Progress. Communication skills are the foundation of care. When you care for a loved one, you obviously have empathy. So these transferable skills can be used.

If you want to make difference in the lives of others, visit our recruitment page and apply for a role at Progress today.

Why I foster: Helen

In a new series of interviews we have asked Progress foster carers why they foster care and how fostering changes lives.

Helen has been caring for James and Perry with her husband, Henry. This is her story.

When you have a child of your own, you realise what a positive influence they can have on your life. My husband Henry and I had reached a stage in our lives where we did not want any more children of our own, but we did want to support and care for a child that was less fortunate than others.

Whether it is for a week or full-time, if Henry and I could change a child’s life for the better, we would.

Some of my work colleagues had experience as foster carers. The more they spoke to me about how fostering works, the more it seemed like a great way to help children.

When you start fostering, prepare for your life to change.

You will go through a lot emotionally and looking after someone else’s child will take a lot out of you. In some cases, you may only have a short time with a child or young person, maybe a year or two so it may feel like everything is happening quickly.

However, you must remember that the time you are in their lives, could be an important period for them. It is for this reason that Henry and I put all our energies into ensuring we can make a difference.

When Progress told us about James and Perry we wanted to help. The boys did not have the structure of regular family life, so we expected things to be a little chaotic. In all honestly, they were just two sweet little boys that needed love and attention.

Henry and I were nervous about the rules we wanted to implement in the house. We did not want them to feel intimidated but knew that the rules would stand all of us in good stead.

James and Perry have been fantastic at going along with everything. The boys say please and thank you and eat three meals a day, as opposed to the junk food they ate before they arrived. Routines like brushing their teeth and going to bed at set times, have helped them to live a normal life.

As a couple, Henry and I appreciate having a network of other foster carers. Progress hosts the “Voice of Progress”, a monthly club for foster children to get together and participate in fun activities. The foster carers tag along and use it as a chance to talk to each other about our experiences.

There is no set rule book for what makes a good foster carer. We all bring our uniqueness to any given situation. Having some life experience and being a caring and patient person helps.

Fostering is my way of making a positive difference in the world. Henry and I feel that giving a child the chance to succeed in life is not only good for them, but for everyone in society. If you can offer a child a home, along with the help and support they need at a difficult time in their life, then you must get involved.

Keen to know how you can change a child’s life? Click here for more information

Safeguarding children and young people

Safeguarding children and young people means protecting them from any abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

We want all foster children and young people to grow up as part of a loving family.

It is, therefore, the Progress foster team’s responsibility to give children and young people (and their carers) access to the support they need to create a safe environment.

Here are ten different ways the team achieves this.

  1. Ensuring children and young people are given online security (such as up-to-date antivirus software and parental controls)
  2. Providing children and young people with training on how to keep safe online
  3. Educating children and young people about the risks involved inside and outside the home
  4. Ensuring children and young people have the contact details of external professionals, through the Progress Young Peoples’ Handbook
  5. Working closely with the relevant agencies to record and report any issues or signs of abuse
  6. Working with our foster carers through regular risk assessments, monitoring and reporting about those in their care
  7. If children and young people receive transport to school, we work with our foster carers to ensure that they are escorted safely
  8. Providing foster carers with training to understand childhood trauma and how to create a safe environment in their home
  9. Empowering girls to talk about their feelings, hopes and dreams via the Progress girls’ group
  10. Providing one-to-one support with a personal family support worker, so children and young people can build relationships with their carers
Want to know how you can get involved and become a foster carer? Click here to learn how you can change a child’s life. If you would like to talk to us, email fostering@progresscare.co.uk, or call 01902 561066.

Sybil’s tips on becoming a support worker

Sybil is an experienced Team Leader at Progress. Having worked closely with staff at Portland house she is well placed to tell us what is needed in becoming a support worker.

A Progress support worker gives children and young adults (with complex disabilities) practical and emotional support to live happy and fulfilling lives. The job is challenging but also one of the most rewarding things you can do.

As a team leader, I am often involved in the interview process of hiring new support workers. While specific qualifications are needed to work at Progress, I look for people who have the character to cope with the unique needs of the people we support.

To help you get a role at Progress, here are few tips on the type of person who would make a great Progress support worker.

Empathy: When you put yourself in the shoes of those in your care you will have a greater appreciation of the support they need. Always be understanding and sensitive to the needs of other people.

Respect: We all work together to help those in our care. From sharing ideas to encouraging each other, treat your colleagues as you wish to be treated.

Patience: In stressful situations, remain calm and patient. Anger and irritability will affect how you do your job and more importantly impact negatively on the person in your care.

I want to apply, what do I do?

Visit progresscare.co.uk/recruitment today and start your journey in helping others.