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.

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.

5 minutes with…Michelle

The Support Worker at Wellcroft House, on life at Progress, beverages, and why you should give working with young people a try.

I always wanted to do something meaningful in life. I’ve had different jobs and owned a café too, but it wasn’t fulfilling. When I saw a job come up with Progress I thought, yeah, this works for me. A career and an opportunity to help others? It’s a win-win.

I began life as a night supporter worker. I used to work every other weekend at Oak Cottage and now eleven years later, I’m a support worker at Wellcroft House. My role is to make sure that young people always have the best quality of life. It’s not an easy job, but if you have compassion for others, you really can change lives.

I’ve learnt a lot in my eleven years at Progress. Probably the biggest thing I’ve learnt, is that that you can’t give anything less than 100% each shift. Another human being is dependent upon you, so having a strong work ethic is a biggie.

It’s the young people that inspire me to come to work. When you see them smile because you have taken them out to the park, or they get excited when you read them a story, I feel what I’m doing is having an impact.

Progression is the aim. I have known many of the young people for over ten years and have built a close bond with them. When they move on, you’re sad because you have followed them on their journey. But it means that they’re progressing in life and that’s what we want.

We have had some great times. I remember a non-verbal young person who liked different beverages. I devised a little game so she could become more self-reliant. I brought out a tea bag and a bottle of juice and placed them in front of her. I waited a few moments. I didn’t think anything would happen until she reached and touched the tea bag – she made the choice! I think about those moments a lot.

You should give it a try. If you’re passionate, have the energy and are a resilient person, then what are you waiting for? There are so many children and young people that need your help.

Michelle is currently fundraising for front line NHS staff at Wolverhampton New Cross Hospital. Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/michelle-rafferty for further information and how to donate.

What does a support worker do?

Laura is one of the Registered Managers at Stourbridge House. Having started her career as a Support Worker, she knows what it takes in getting a foot in the door and developing a career in health and social care.

Now responsible for recruiting staff, Laura has shared her words of wisdom to what being a Support Worker is all about:

I can honestly say that working for Progress throws a challenge pretty much every day. No two days are the same, so if you don’t want a desk job then working for Progress is for you.

Becoming a support worker is not only a great way to step into the world of health and social care, but it also gives you the chance to make a real difference.

So, you’re asking, what does a support worker do?

At Progress, there are two types of Support Worker; community and residential.

Essentially you will be supporting:

  • young person/young adult in one of our residential homes.
  • a young adult in the community.

What’s the difference?

As a Support Worker in a residential home, you would be assigned to a young person/adult. The young person/young adults you work with will have learning disabilities, complex needs and challenging behaviours.

Your role is to offer direct support to them and also respond to any other tasks dependent on the needs of the business.

Not every young person/young adult is in our homes full time, you may also be supporting them through our short breaks service.

As a Support Worker in the community, your role is to help a young person/adult learn life skills. This type of support is vital in giving them a life of independence. The hours can be flexible so your work can fit around the needs of the business and your availability.

What qualifications do I need?

One of the most important requirements for this job is a real passion for helping others and if you haven’t got any other job experience yet, don’t worry!

You will get plenty of training opportunities to increase your skills. The hours are, as the job states, flexible so if you’re studying or have other commitments, this role is ideal.

If you apply for as a Residential Support Worker, you need a QCF Level 3 or equivalent Caring for Children and a QCF Level 3 or equivalent for Young People/Adults in Health and Social Care.

As with all jobs at Progress that involve working with children and young people/adults, an offer is subject to a satisfactory DBS check.

Do life experiences count?

Look back at your life…

Do you help your grandparents with their shopping? Are you there for a friend when they deal with a difficult issue? Or maybe you too have children with additional needs?

You may not realise this, but the skills you have in helping others are transferable.

Having empathy and respect for others counts a lot.

So, what are you waiting for?

Visit progresscare.co.uk/recruitment to kick-start you journey towards a career in care.

Why I foster: Joanna

In a new series of interviews we will be asking Progress foster carers why they choose to foster and why despite some challenges, fostering can bring a lot of joy.

Here’s Joanna’s story.

“You don’t help someone to get a pat on the back. My husband and I foster because we love it. Seeing a child smile because of the support we have given them makes us so happy.

For twenty-two years I was a primary school teacher, including a period where I was a foster mother in nurseries. Back in the 1980s I was also a foster parent but trying to devote time to three children of my own and a foster child was difficult. I’ve always felt that every child needs an equal amount of love and care and one should not be neglected over the other.

I learnt a lot working at the school. One of the biggest things being a child’s behaviour is not always down to them being unreasonable, it may be because they are not understanding their current situation or behaviour expectations. You can’t take things personally. I found that if I was able to nurture a child’s skills and behaviours things could change in a positive way.

Once I retired the idea of fostering kept coming back to me. Wherever I turned I saw fostering. Facebook, the internet, TV, it was everywhere! This was not a coincidence. I debated the pros with my husband, and we decided to go ahead and look for fostering agencies.

I first heard of Progress when I saw them at a summer carnival in Birmingham where I found the staff were friendly and open. I got to learn more about fostering and the different types of foster care we could provide. I went on to speak to another four agencies but found Progress the most professional. So, we chose them as our fostering agency.

The process of becoming a foster carer is rigorous. You have to be completely transparent as a couple and a family. My husband and I have been married for over forty years, so we took everything in our stride.

Once we were confirmed as foster carers, we decided that we wanted to provide short breaks. This type of fostering gives families or a parent without a support network a chance to recharge their batteries, especially when a child has a disability. Looking after my own grandchildren five days a week, meant we could make a realistic contribution to fostering of a weekend once a month without compromising our families or personal well-being. There is currently a huge demand for respite foster placements.

We ended up fostering two brothers. The younger boy was able to communicate but his older brother couldn’t. Of course, we were nervous when we began, however, you soon build a rapport with the children. Learning the fostering guidelines has helped as well as the support from Progress. We have taken part in a lot of training which has been essential for our development as foster carers.

The brothers are very active. We now take them swimming every month, go to parks, museums and nature trails – we have had some really great times.

We’ve also worked on how we could communicate better with the older child by restricting the amount of time he spends on his tablet (while in our care). We hoped he could join in conversations and use a visual timetable to communicate. I read stories to the boys and we play games like “I spy” in the car. One day I was reading the brothers a book and the little one was joining in. Suddenly the non-verbal older brother shouted – BOO! I nearly fell off my chair!

The children are now able to increase their vocabulary and interact with others. It’s wonderful when they tap me and try to say something or count.

Sometimes fostering can be hard. I make sure there’s enough time for me and my husband. We go for walks, spend time with my children and grandchildren and go to church too – we’re very close.

To anyone thinking of fostering I’d say having the ability to change a child’s future for the better is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Every child deserves a safe and secure family environment”.

Want to 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 and we will be happy to help.

 

Supporting Young People

We want to be able to share with your the amazing things Progress carers experience in their job every day.

Mark is a Progress carer and has been supporting Jay for nearly three years.

This is his story:

Jay is very high on the spectrum of autism and has minimal vocabulary.

Despite this, Jay’s Mum really wanted her son to take part in activities that benefited not only him but also the wider community.

I did some research and found a program that was looking for volunteers to help maintain and preserve parks in the West Midlands.

It was with much anticipation that we arrived on the first day alongside the other volunteers. Jay was delighted to see so many people he was going to be part of a team with. Something was said on the first day that stayed with me.

The person running the program suggested that Jay being in the park alongside other people, may not work. However, he was willing to allow Jay to stick around. When you hear things like this, it saddens you. I knew that Jay would show that he is more than capable of participating despite all his disabilities – after all, we are all able by our abilities.

Volunteering brought out so much in Jay, it’s incredible. He’s making friends, working hard and giving back to the community, which is what he and his Mum wanted.

Sadly, it was during this period that his Dad passed away. Being such a strong person, Jay carried on working even though it must have been difficult for him. He also had the added pressure of this being the first year since he finished school.

The moral of the story is that nothing is impossible. Jay has achieved great things despite others saying he wouldn’t. Whenever I see him working, I always look on in amazement to what he has achieved.

I feel so proud to support Jay and have no doubt in my mind that he will carry on achieving a lot more throughout his adult 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.

Why work for Progress?

Are you thinking of working in care? With many jobs in care on offer, what makes Progress a great company to work for?

1.   We value the opinions of our staff

As an organisation that works for children and young adults, the quality of services we provide is vital to our existence – therefore our staff are our greatest asset.

Without their hard work and achievements, we wouldn’t benefit the number of lives we do.

At Progress, we encourage staff to voice their opinions, suggestions, and ideas. Working on the principle of ‘come to us with an idea, show us and demonstrate that it works’ we will do our very best to support its implementation.

Our staff value that their voices are heard. With any ideas implemented, we will always go above and beyond to ensure the staff member receives recognition.

2.   We continuously evaluate the way we do things

Every day we ask ourselves, ‘how can we be better?. We are always looking at the ways we assist and support our staff, our Foster Carers and our young people and seeing how we can improve on that.

Encouraging and developing young people in our care to be the best they can be is important to us. We have the same philosophy when it comes to our staff, and this is demonstrated through our continuous learning and development.

It is imperative that we work outside our roles across all our services collaboratively. We brainstorm and analyse all aspects of our services to ensure we provide opportunities for people in our care to grow.

3.   We embrace change and opportunity

In our opinion, ‘we’ve always done it that way’ is a dangerous way of thinking. We want to get better. Growing our teams, investing in people and analysing what we can do better for the young people in our care is important as it allows us continually adapt to changes.

We are passionate about everyone within our organisation getting involved in sharing duties and opportunities. From the CEO to the cooks in the residential homes, we all like to get stuck in. We have the attitude of, no job is too small for anyone to do. We believe that there is no hierarchy in a way that someone is more important than others. We all work together to serve the people in our care in the best way possible.

If you are looking for a change of employer or even a change of sector, take a look at our jobs page and see if we have the job for you.