5 minutes with…Tom

The Team Leader at Oak Cottage, on the benefits of working together, his life experience, and being yourself at Progress.

I grew up in challenging circumstances. I was brought up in care and was in foster care too. So, I can relate to the young people I care for and empathise with them.

I can be myself at Progress. Working in care is better than working in an office. I have done both, and I can honestly say that working in care has allowed me to be myself. You will not be thrown into the deep end at Progress. I was given plenty of time to do all my training and got to shadow senior staff too.

Working collaboratively is important. One of the things that I love about Progress is that all the staff are open and accessible. I am pretty curious by nature, and I ask many questions because I want to do well. When I first started working here, the staff helped me gain more confidence in my role.

I have experience to share. For example, if a young person has sensory overload, I can show my colleagues what triggers they need to avoid or what activities they should engage the young person in. If someone is unsure, I am there to help. Providing support is what we do.

Supporting my team is part of my job. As Team Leader I make sure a proper handover has been done. This means the night staff know what has happened in the day with the young people and what they need to look out for. I can then relax knowing the young people are safe and happy, and I have made sure all staff know what they are doing.

This is a career for life. I have a lot to learn, but I would love to be a manager or foster carer. So many children across the UK need some extra support. If you want to change a child’s life – this is for you.

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

 

Progress turns 21!

As we begin our year long festivities celebrating 21 years of supporting children and young people, Progress Chief Executive Bal Dhanoa and Chief Financial Officer Raj Dhanoa have a special message for our staff.

“Thank you all for your continued support, commitment, and dedication to Progress.

  • We are proud of our journey so far, we continue to make happy memories for our young people, so when they reach ‘adulthood’ they can reflect back and think of their time at Progress and what that means for them
  • We are proud to give stability to those needing long term care
  • We are proud to provide a range of amazing support services and care options to so many in our communities through our Hub teams
  • We are proud to expand our residential care portfolio across the Midlands – each home have their own unique offerings
  • We are proud of our foster carers, some whom have been with us right from the start of our journey and all those joining us now and, in the future

Reflecting on the time when this journey started for me, it was just a vision of what can be achieved. We started from humble beginnings and I am so blessed and proud of how the family of Progress has grown over the 21 years. Our journey has been incredible with many ripples and mountains to climb along the way. I am so proud to have such amazing people, who have been part of this journey and truly make a difference and uphold strong values as we continue to make memories.

During this journey we have had so many wonderful staff that have worked with us and developed their career paths – some moving on to achieve their own journeys and even retuning back to us. There are many of our staff who have worked with us for several years and developed their skills and moved on to senior positions within Progress. To all of you our heartfelt thank you.

There are those angels in our journey who have truly understood my vision, my passion, and have put up with my madness, in good and bad times, and have enabled my deepest desire to provide the best that we can to all vulnerable young people in our care. They remain constant, focused, always protecting us, and have been there from the start. A special thank you to our MD Claire. Without you this journey would not have been possible.

As we continue to prosper we hope and pray that we can continue to serve and make a difference in people’s lives, and continue to improve career opportunities for you all as you go through this wonderful journey with us. Always look to the future and learn from the past!

Happy 21st birthday to Progress as we all look forward to celebrating many more in years to come”.

Bal & Raj.

Keep visiting Progresscare.co.uk for further 21st celebration updates. #progress21

My Progress experience: Harry

My name is Harry.

I am a teenager with Autism.

After suffering several losses within my close family, I could not understand and control my feelings, which led to my behaviours hurting those closest to me. I lacked confidence and did not like leaving the house. My home is where I feel comfortable and safe. The thought of any activities outside gave me anxiety, and it would take 30 minutes to coax me out of the house.

Progress matched me with a Support Worker, Julian.  We clicked and talked about working together to explore ways of increasing my confidence.

Julian and I

As Julian started to visit me once a week, I felt my confidence grow. I was able to open up to Julian about gaming and other things that are important to me. We would go for a walk down the canal and talk about things in my life. I could use these conversations and create scenarios in my head that would help me overcome personal hurdles.

I love gaming, but Julian knew nothing about PlayStation or Xbox. I took it upon myself to educate Julian about the games I play. Julian is getting better, but I still win every time we play!

Julian is not just my ‘carer’; he is somebody I can talk to and take guidance from.

Getting out of my comfort zone

I now do activities I had never regularly done before. For example, for the first time, I went out to eat and paid the bill myself. A year ago, I would never have had the confidence to speak to someone and ask for anything.

Remember when I said it used to take 30 minutes to coax me out of the house? Now I am happy to leave straight away.

Happier than I have ever been

I recently made the transition from secondary school to college, and I enjoy learning.

I have also started going to the gym and have taken an interest in health & nutrition. Progress has helped me gain further knowledge about health & nutrition with online training to stay fit and eat well.

Being able to manage my feelings has now helped me become a happier and more active person!

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. 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.

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

Progress Awarded Gold

Progress are delighted to announce that it has been awarded the Investors in People, We invest in people, Gold accreditation.

Investors in People (IIP) is a standard for people management, offering accreditation to organisations that adhere to its framework of good practice in the workplace.

With a community of 15,000 organisations across 75 countries, Progress is one of only 17% of accredited organisations that have achieved Gold.

Commenting on the award, Emma Ruffinato, HR Manager, said: “The gold accreditation is testament to our commitment to develop and take care of our staff. We will use the IIP assessment to continue to empower our staff across the organisation.”

Claire Rogers, Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to have been recognised by Investors in People. The progress values are reflected by the staff who deliver our services. This award is evidence that the ethos needed to be an Investors in People Gold organisation is in place.”

Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People, added: “We’d like to congratulate Progress. Gold accreditation on We invest in people is a fantastic effort for any organisation, and places Progress in fine company with a host of organisations that understand the value of people.”

 

Four Stories About Our Young People

“The young people I support are the reason why I am a support worker.”

We love to hear about the success and achievements of our young people. In their own way, they all make us proud of them. It’s also important to note the hard work our Support Workers do working with young people. They help them live life to the full! Here are few stories from Donna, a Progress support worker who says life is never dull working at Progress.

J.B

J.B used to lack confidence and often found it hard to interact with staff and other young people. His difficulty with freedom of movement meant he was sad and despondent. Going to college or being amongst people was always a negative experience for J.B.

However, over the last few months J.B has made huge changes and improvements in his life. For example, encouraged by Progress staff he took up climbing and recently passed his Level 2 course in rock climbing. J.B now has the confidence to go for his level 3!

By working hard on his team working skills and developing a trust with his climbing partners J.B has grown in confidence. He can now be in a room without protecting himself from people and speaks more positively when discussing college.  

J.B has come a long way.

S.C

K.B has raised hundreds of pounds for charities over the last 12 months. He always strives to do more at every opportunity and is always thinking of others. He is happy to help anyone and puts his all into everything he does.

Last year, he also passed his level 2 in sports leadership surpassing even his parents’ expectations!

TT

TT has had a difficult year including losing his father. Despite this he has worked with his family and support workers to regularly volunteer at a local park. He is always on time and ready to help others. His tasks include clearing walk-ways of unwanted trees and holly and at the allotment, he litter picks the perimeter. TT works hard to get a job done.

M.L

M.L used to be supported by six members of staff. As you can imagine he had very complex needs. His team of support workers worked hard to ensure M.L needed less support so he could live a life with more independence.

The support workers listened to his needs and allowed him to take the lead to make his own decisions and this has worked wonders. M.L now interacts with all staff and handles being in the community and rarely has any frustrating moments. He no longer uses challenging/ harmful behaviour to get his point across.

He has totally changed to such a point that people we meet in the community from his old placements are shocked that he is only 2:1 now down from 6:1!

7 Ways You Benefit With Supported Living

The Progress supported living service helps you to move into your own accommodation, giving you the chance to live independently.

But why choose supported living? Here are 7 ways you can benefit with support from Progress.

  1. Greater independence
    • Supported living gives you the chance to live as ordinary a life as possible. It could mean moving out of a residential home or taking those first steps to independence by moving out of your parents’ house. Whatever your circumstances, we can support you on your journey to living as independently as possible.
  2. You can rent or even own your property
    • The housing/accommodation is usually provided by either the council, a housing association or a social landlord. We can help find a property that suits your needs, or we can support your existing property. Some people may choose to buy their own home, or others may rent from a private landlord. There are schemes out there to support you with your housing costs, such as exempt housing benefit. You can also live on your own or in a shared housing arrangement with your friends or other like-minded people.
  3. Furniture and goods belong to you
    • It is your home, and you can furnish and decorate it the way you want. We can help you to go shopping and furnish your home with you. In some instances, there may be support from your local authority leaving the care team. Don’t be daunted; Progress will support you in making the best decisions for you. Remember, you may be able to get financial help with your purchases if you have difficulty.
  4. Support tailored around your needs
    • We can provide 24/7 support or require help with specific tasks such as personal care needs or medication. If you want to learn how to manage your money, cook and clean or even learning new independence skills, we are there for you.
  5. Trained staff selected by you
    • We already have staff with a wide range of skills that may already be trained to meet your needs. You will get the chance to select a team that you feel will meet your needs the most, or we can recruit staff for you.
  6. Staff are regulated for your safety
    • All of our staff have an enhanced Disclosure, and Barring Service (DBS) check to ensure they are safe to support and care for you. Our service is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to ensure we have robust procedures in place to keep you safe from harm.
  7. Support with benefits
    • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can help you with extra costs if you have long-term ill-health or disability. You could get between £22.65 and £145.35 a week if you’re aged 16 or over and have not reached the State Pension age. You could get a grant from your local authority if you’re disabled and need to make changes to your home. If you are a homeowner, this may be to widen doors and install ramps, improve access to rooms and facilities – e.g. stairlifts or a downstairs bathroom – provide.
Want to know more? Click here to find out how supported living can change your life.

Working in Care Stories: Kim

Kim is a Team Leader at Progress’s Children’s Short Breaks service, Stourbridge House.

This is her story.

It was Kim Williams’ younger brother who inspired her to work in care. ‘He is autistic and I grew up caring for him,’ she says. ‘I love him to bits, he is such a character and I wanted to help people in a similar situation.’

Kim was just 18 when she became a volunteer for Progress, helping out with activities in the community to gain experience before she started studying for a social work degree. When she went to university, she was a support worker for Progress in her spare time. She then decided to focus on moving forward with her career full time.

‘Progress is a lovely company to work for. I think you are really valued as an employee,’ she says. ‘My line manager identified I had the ability to progress and supported me. I feel that support has been ongoing ever since.’

Kim went on to a senior position in The Hub, helping young people to develop their independence.

Now, at 22, she is team leader at Stourbridge House, which provides short breaks for children aged 5 to 18, giving families a break from day-to-day care. Stourbridge House provides a range of activities like trips to the seaside and theme parks, as well as supporting children and young people to move towards independence and grow in confidence.

Kim’s role involves managing and supervising staff, helping to run the home and supporting the young people. ‘No two days are the same,’ she says. ‘We have 40 different families, so every day different combinations of children come in. It’s really enjoyable to work with children with a variety of needs. Some days we have a child with severe challenging behaviour, other days it’s a child with severe learning difficulties and physical disabilities.

‘It’s lovely to see the children make progress and to see the families being able to have a break, with confidence their children are being well looked after. The children make a lot of progress here.’

Kim has encouraged others to follow in her footsteps and work for Progress. ‘Progress provide such a variety of support,’ she says. ‘It gives you the chance to find your niche and see what you enjoy. I was able to pinpoint where I wanted to be.’

She is hoping to continue moving forward in her career with Progress and one day she would like to manage a home. ‘At the moment I’m really happy in the role I’m in,’ she says.

Kim says it is more a way of life than a job. ‘I absolutely love it,’ she says. ‘It’s a homely environment and you are coming to support children. The children are all absolutely amazing. They are such a joy to work with and every single one of them has their own qualities. You build relationships with them. When I have annual leave and I have been off for a couple of weeks I miss it. I can’t wait to get back and see the kids. It’s a really rewarding role.’

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

Working for Progress: Phil’s Story

“I can talk with passion about what I do because I fully believe in it” says Phil McDonald who is at the helm of The Hub, which helps children and young adults with disabilities to get the absolute most from life.

Phil started his working life at the tax office, but feeling unfulfilled, took a leap of faith to work in care and has never looked back since. He started in children’s services working alongside young people with autism and behavioural support needs.

In 2008 he joined Progress, initially as a senior support worker at Shire House.  He moved on to his first managerial role at Regis House, which was then providing short breaks. He was instrumental in the company’s further development of our Hub services, before becoming operations manager of the Hub in 2017.

His role includes involvement in recruitment days. “Quite often people have no professional experience, but they go on to make really good carers” he says. “I think it is important we offer people that stepping stone. Progress is a personal company, it’s not too big. You still know who people are and there’s always a new opportunity. If people fit within the value base and are motivated, they can relatively quickly climb the ladder.” He continued, “We are always willing to train people as relevant to their job role and to support their own personal development. As long as they are willing to engage with it, we are willing to support them to do it.”

Phil says his role is a massive challenge all of the time. “There is always something different happening” he says, which is why he enjoys it. He also likes the difference he can make. “There are people we’ve supported that I have known since they were tiny kids and now some of them are living on their own independently. Knowing that the services we have created for them, have supported them to do that, is a big thing for me.”

Phil explained, “The point I stop being passionate about what I do, is the point I know it’s time for me to not do it anymore. This role is not something you can do half-heartedly. It doesn’t finish at 5 o’clock.”

Outside of work Phil enjoys spending time with his three children. He likes reading and watching films. He describes his personality as ‘pretty relaxed’, adding “I’m not easily phased and I’m relatively flexible. I don’t mind working in crisis and I communicate well with people”.

Sometimes he misses the interaction with the young people now that his career has progressed.  “Sometimes people will come into the office to say hello and I spend a bit of time with them, having a chat. That was what I fell in love with in the beginning, that level of interaction and helping people.”

Highlights have included an ‘outstanding’ inspection when he was at Shire House. But he also points to more individual ‘victories.’ There was the little boy who came for short breaks when he was five years old. “He had a crop of bright red hair and he was like a little whirlwind, running around all over the place” says Phil. “You couldn’t let him out of your sight. We worked with him to settle him down.” He was placed with a foster family and Phil has been delighted to see his progress. At the last Progress summer barbeque, years after they first met, Phil watched him sitting quietly under a tree eating his packed lunch. It is moments like this, moments too numerous to mention, that make his job worthwhile.