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Jodie Holland, 21, works at Gilmorton Flats, a supported living tenancy in Leicester which supports 11 adults with learning disabilities to live independently in the community.
Earlier this year, Andrew, a tenant who Jodie was Key Worker to, received the sad news that he had terminal cancer. Despite being devastated by the news themselves, Jodie and her colleagues did not let their support falter and supported Andrew to come to terms with his challenging diagnosis. Jodie took her support one step further, by working with Andrew to create a ‘Bucket List’ of activities he would like to achieve and accomplish before he passed away.
The Bucket List contained a list of all of Andrew’s hopes and ambitions – ranging from the small, to go on a boat trip, to the immensely significant – getting back in touch with his brother who he had lost contact with, for regular lunches. Jodie supported him to achieve all of these goals – working tirelessly to make them happen. The pinnacle of Andrew’s bucket list was to take one last holiday – visiting the Lake Distict, a place Andrew had always wanted to visit due to his love of nature and the great outdoors. Jodie carefully planned a holiday that would involve all of his favourite pastimes, and went with him to ensure that not only did he have a great time, but that he was fully supported throughout.
He came back from his holiday relaxed, calm, and ready to face whatever his diagnosis would throw at him. The tenant unfortunately passed away shortly afterwards, but the devotion of Jodie and the staff team meant that he was fulfilled and happy when he passed away. Quote from Andrew’s brother: ‘It’s so nice to see that Andrew had a good life right to the end. Jodie and the staff at Gilmorton are so caring and looked after him so well. A big thank you.’
Within two years of working for our charity, Chrstine Cundall was recognised as Britain’s best care home worker at The Great British Care Awards. Her amazing success show’s that great care always begins with caring people.
When Christine applied for a job at EachStep Blackley, she had very little experience of working in care. She explains, “For many years I was the main carer for my mother, who lived with dementia. I felt passionately after this experience that supporting people with dementia was my vocation and that by working in care, I could give other people the same standard of support that I gave to my own mum.”
As a Care and Activity Worker at EachStep Blackley, its Christine’s role to provide people with both the physical and emotional care that they need, and also support them to enjoy full and active lives too.
She explains, “It’s not my job to do things for our residents, but to support them to do things for themselves – helping them to stay independent, happy and fulfilled. It’s a wonderful feeling to see the people we support continuing to do the things they love and getting involved in life in our service.”
“We work hard to understand the lives of every person we support - the things that they enjoy and the things that bring them comfort, and we bring this to the fore in their support. It’s our responsibility to keep whatever has always been important to a person – their family and friends, their religion, their favourite football team, or hobbies like music and gardening – part of their lives. When you do this, you’re seeing the person not their dementia.”
“Last year my family and I moved to Glasgow, from my home country of Italy. Relocating to Scotland was a big step, so I was keen to find a job that would help me to meet new people, as well as develop my talents.
One of my friends works at Elder Grove Place, a service supporting three people with learning disabilities, and they told me about a Support Worker vacancy that was coming up. I felt that as a naturally caring person, with a positive outlook, I could bring a lot to the role and I was very excited to apply for it.
Getting the job at Elder Grove has been one of the best experiences of my life.
As a Support Worker, it is my job to help John, Colin and Stephen, the three people who live at Elder Grove, to lead happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. Every day is different. My responsibilities can range from helping them to take medication, to supporting them to enjoy fun days out in the community and take part in music therapy sessions.
This has been my first experience of working in social care, so I was a little nervous at first. However, I’ve been given lots of support, encouragement and mentoring from my colleagues, as well as some great training. Hopefully, I’ve been able to give something back to the service too – my manager often praises my youthful outlook and enthusiasm, and I’ve really developed great relationships with everyone here.
To be a good support worker, you need to be caring, patient, attentive, and able to communicate well; my job has helped me to develop all of these qualities and many more. But most of all, I’ve found that working in care is an incredibly rewarding vocation – for me, there is no greater satisfaction than helping John, Colin and Stephen to be at their most independent and lead full and happy lives.”
“I’ve worked all my life as a warehouse man, driving all over the country. During those long days I’d looked forward to my retirement, but no sooner had it arrived, the novelty wore off! I hated having nothing to get up for in the mornings and soon found myself at a loose end. That’s when I started to think about what skills I could offer through volunteering.
“Lynda, the Manager at Ferncliffe Road, has been a friend for many years and so she suggested that I use my experience and volunteer to drive their mini-bus. I thought it was a great idea and I now volunteer five days a week, taking the guys out to whatever activities they have on; whether it be a few hours at their day centre, an afternoon shopping or even horse-riding lessons!
“Lots of people ask me why I’m not using my retirement to sit back and relax but that would leave me bored and restless. I love volunteering, it keeps me busy and I’ve made great friends with the staff at the service who all treat me like one of their team. I’ve got a lot of respect for what the support staff do; it’s a hard job and if I can make it a little bit easier by freeing up some of their time helping out with driving, then I’m quite happy!”
“My husband and Mary’s elderly friend were both cared for at Amberleigh House,” explains Beryl. “The way the staff here looked after our loved ones will stay with us forever and that’s why we both volunteer now, to try, in our own little way, to say thanks.”
“We help with activities like bingo, reminiscence sessions and sing-a-longs,” says Mary. “Dementia can be a very sad illness, but our role means that we can make our residents lives happier.”
And it’s not just the residents who Beryl and Mary help, residents’ families also benefit from their personal experiences. “We know how it feels to place a loved one in a home, so we are able to empathise with families, offering them support and reassurance,” says Beryl.
Mary agrees, “I think it is important when you retire that you do something of real purpose and value. That is why it is such a pleasure volunteering at Amberleigh House, where our work is both valued and valuable.”