5 minutes with…Julian

The community support worker on the importance of mentors, giving back, and listening.

I am a head of the year in a mainstream secondary school and have been doing this for the last thirteen years. Some of the children in the school are in care or have SEN (special education needs). I wanted to gain a deep understanding of where the young people were coming from for my professional development. If I can understand them and their feelings, I could support them.

I was involved in sports as a youngster. I played a lot of basketball and got mentored by world-class coaches. There was also a Headteacher who supported me at school. I learned about dedication, discipline and working hard in my formative years. These experiences inspired me as an adult to share the knowledge they gave me with other young people.

Looking at mental health provision is under my remit in school. I want to understand the behaviours the children were showing. Why is a young person sad or anxious? Some research led me to find out about Progress and a community support worker role. By becoming a support worker, I knew that I would understand how to support young people effectively.

It is important to listen to young people and allow them to talk. I try to find solutions for their problems. There was a pupil (in care) that arrived at school upset. Within half an hour of the start of the first lesson, he was in detention because he had forgotten his PE kit and missed the class. The young person was upset that he had lost the timetable, and the care home he was in knew nothing about this. I contacted his support workers and emailed the timetable to the home. The support workers placed the sheet on his bedroom wall. If the tools are there, a young person can take responsibility for themselves.

The first session with young person in community care is a challenge. You are entering a young person’s life, and they do not want to let go of their home setting or meet anyone new. The key is to listen and engage. Find their interest. For example, I know nothing about gaming. The young person in my care educates me about a game that he is playing. That conversation will lead to other things in life.

I like to give back. I do not want to see people stuck in a rut. If I can support and change a life, I will. I want to think that if I were in the same situation, someone would do the same for me. My coaches, parents, grandparents, friendship group, have all played a part in me being able to give back.

There must be role models for young people. Social media can easily influence young people by having someone look out for them, it can change their lives.

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…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!

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. 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.

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

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“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.