Meet Community Support Manager, Lesley. Lesley joined Gray Healthcare as a Support Worker in 2015, and now leads a team of Support Workers in Cumbria. This year, 2022, Lesley was nominated for and won an Award at Gray Healthcare’s Value Awards for being an inspiration to her colleagues. Lesley shares her story about her journey from Support Worker to Team Leader and what she loves about her role.
What did you do before you joined Gray Healthcare?
‘When I left school, I went to college to study Health and Social Care. As part of my training, I had to organise a placement and I managed to get not one but two placements – one in a school and one in a care home for the elderly. When I finished my course, I was offered a job in the nursing home. I worked at the home for a while but when I got married, we moved to Rugby and I had to change jobs. I was offered a job as a Nursing Auxiliary for people with Learning Disabilities at Rugby Health Authority, where I worked in a small unit, just four flats with five people in each flat. I then had the opportunity to move to Holland, where I lived for seven years. During this time, I worked in a language school helping children from all over the country learn English. I loved this role and living in Holland was an amazing experience but when I had my first child, my husband and I wanted to be closer to our families, so we moved back to the UK. We initially moved to the Midlands where I worked as a Support Worker in a nursing home and then we moved to Cumbria, where I now live, and I joined Cumbria County Council as a Support Worker doing home visits to people who needed extra support. In this role I was ‘train the trainer’ for moving and handling and I completed the NVQ assessor. I later returned to working in an elderly residential care home as a Support Worker and was promoted to Deputy Manager. Then along came a role with Gray Healthcare…’
How did you find out about the role at Gray Healthcare and what made you apply for it?
‘A friend and former colleague of mine moved to Gray Healthcare and, at roughly the same time, I was thinking of leaving my current role for a new challenge. We met for a coffee, and she spoke about Gray Healthcare in such glowing terms. She talked about the fantastic training she’d been offered, how she was able to take the person she was supporting out into the community, how the company supported trips out with the allocation of a therapeutic budget and the amazing people she worked with. It sounded so good, it made me want to be part of it all, so I applied, was successful and I haven’t looked back – she certainly sold it well!’
Can you tell us about the role of Community Support Manager?
‘The majority of my time is still spent working on shift with the people I support, which I love, with some hours allocated for admin. In terms of the admin side, I make sure care plans, risk assessments and supervisions are all up-to-date and I also organise team meetings and the staff rotas. I am always available for my colleagues if they need me. As mentioned, most of my time is spent on shift with the people we support. I work with two individuals, one a man with schizophrenia who also has a mild Learning Disability and the other a lady who has an acquired brain injury. The man I support always calls me ‘boss’! As Support Workers, we help the people we support with daily living tasks and encourage them to go out into the community and live the best lives possible. I have watched both the people I support come on leaps and bounds since they have had support from Gray Healthcare. Both individuals have had their package hours reduced as a result of the support we have given them, and this really makes you feel you and your team have achieved something worthwhile. ‘
What’s the best thing about working at Gray Healthcare?
‘I love working on shift with my colleagues and with the people we support. As long as my staff are happy with me, then that’s all that matters to me. Seeing the people we support achieve something new is what makes my day, when they smile it just melts my heart.’
What, if anything, do you find challenging about your role?
‘It can be challenging when the person you are supporting is having a bad day as this makes it difficult to promote independence and you sometimes feel you are taking a step backwards. Keeping on top of paperwork can be a challenge but this might be because I don’t want to let people down so rarely say “no”!’
Do you feel you are well supported?
‘Yes, I do feel well supported. If I ever need to speak to my Locality Manager, she is always there. I also know that I can reach out to other people as well if I need support. I recently spoke to our Occupational Therapist who is amazing – she gave me some really helpful advice on how to deal with something in a different way. Likewise, I’m always there for my team if they need me.’
What advice would you give to someone considering working for Gray Healthcare?
‘Go for it! You will be fully supported by your colleagues and by your manager, plus the training you’ll receive is fantastic. If enough people request the same training, the company will provide it. To my mind, Gray Healthcare are the best providers in this area and I’ve worked in many different companies over the years. It really is a phenomenal company.’
Describe Gray Healthcare in three words...
Caring, supportive, accessible
What’s next for you at Gray Healthcare?
‘If I was offered the opportunity to do my Level 4 in Health and Social Care, I would probably take it. However, I love the ‘hands on’ and am very happy with my role currently – I love working with my team and seeing the difference we make to the lives of the people we support.’