What do you do and where do you come from?
I work as a unit manager at Warwick House, which is one of the Council’s care homes.
The home is divided into two parts. At Warwick House we provide respite care for the elderly, as well as social-care step down beds which help vulnerable people who have just left hospital. There is also Bonsall View, which is a discreet unit providing respite care for young adults with profound and complex learning disabilities.
I’ve been at the Council since 1987, when I started working at The Knoll Hostel in Normanton. I’d always wanted to work with people with learning difficulties so in many ways it was my dream job. I haven’t looked back since.
How did you end up in your current role?
I’ve been in my current role for six years, but I’ve always worked with vulnerable people my entire career. My first job was at the Derbyshire Children’s Hospital, before becoming a nursing assistant in a psychiatric hospital.
I started working in residential social care almost thirty years ago and have done all my training on the job. I discovered early on that I was able to establish a strong and meaningful connection with the residents, which was tremendously rewarding.
Over the years I’ve taken on a number of additional roles. I’m Derby City Council’s Dignity Champion, which means I’m responsible for encouraging employees across the authority to think about their responsibilities to those in our care.
I also sit on a number of boards that aim to improve the services we provide to people in care, including our Shared Lives Panel and Customer Inclusion Group. It’s great to be involved at both an operational and strategic level.
So talk me through a typical day at Warwick House?
No two days are ever the same, but I’ll do my best to describe my routine.
I like to get to work for 6.45am so I get an opportunity to see the night staff before the end of their shift. I’ll then sit in on the handover so I can get up to speed with any issues that might have happened overnight.
After that, I’m typically on-call in Bonsall View helping the young people to get ready for school or college. I’ll then help serve breakfast in Warwick House where I get an opportunity engage with residents and meet any new arrivals.
It’s a really important part of the day because I want the customers to see me as a friendly and approachable face should they have any problems.
Once the residents are settled I’ll have a chance to check my emails, then the rest of the day is usually taken up with supervisions and meetings with staff.
What is the most rewarding thing about working with people with learning disabilities?
It’s about giving vulnerable people a better quality of life. Many of the residents at Warwick House have worked hard their whole lives, so deserve to be treated with dignity and respect now they need our care.
In Bonsall View, I get to work with some inspiring and talented young people who should be given a voice. Too often people with learning disabilities are treated as second class citizens, so it’s very rewarding to help them lead happy and independent lives wherever possible.
It’s Dignity Action Day this week – why is Dignity in Care so important?
Lots of people might only think about dignity in care when they are confronted with the prospect of a loved one requiring care or support. We want to change that.
Dignity Action Day is about doing something nice for those in care or who receive care services. It’s also a chance to raise awareness about issues like loneliness and isolation, which affect thousands of elderly people in the UK and can have a serious impact on health and wellbeing.
How can the public help raise awareness about Dignity in Care and what can they do to support Dignity Action Day?
Together with our partners, we are hosting a week of events at the Council House and across care homes and day services in the city.
We are also asking as many people as possible to become Dignity Champions. It takes five minutes to register and doesn’t require you to attend any meetings.
By becoming a Champion, it shows that you believe that Dignity in Care is a basic human right and that you will challenge poor care where you encounter it and act as a role model to others.
This week, if you know someone who is in care, has a disability or that lives alone, why not pay them a visit to see how they are getting on? Small gestures can mean a lot and you might just make somebody’s day.