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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”