Page 27 - TalkingCare_Issue3_WebVersion_OACP Winter 2017
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 communities. The 1970 Education Act strengthened the case for change as it enshrined the idea that all children had a right to an education. Previously, children with learning disabilities had been judged as 'uneducable'.
In mid­1980s, The Camden Society became a registered charity, offering supported living, leisure and training for work services to people with learning disabilities. Since then, services have expanded and the remit widened to include people with physical disabilities, people with mental health needs, and people who need additional support to maintain their independence’.
Gail and her big­hearted, dedicated Oxfordshire team provide support to over 70 people in ‘supported living’ located around Oxford City, Witney and Banbury. The collective vision is all about ‘service users’ – providing very intimate care tailored to the person, with a remit to support, ‘I need it sorting now... moments’.
‘We run a tight team in Oxfordshire, we are flatter, there’s less bureaucracy above us. Our team meets every two months with management to understand what’s going on in the organisation as a whole, which is perfect. Staff at Oxford have autonomy in their roles – this provides a sense of freedom – to make choices and decisions. The ‘service user’ is central in all we do. We have intimate knowledge of our ‘service users’ and we will respond personally and swiftly to any changes or difficulties that present in the ‘lives of the people’ we support’, Gail comments.
Thinking about the national social care climate Gail says, ‘Right now it seems as if Social Care is heading for meltdown – increasingly giving less choice – the picture is not looking good’.
Gail continues: ‘There are real concerns about the effect of the National Living Wage amongst care providers especially those in domiciliary care (care in the home), who may already be struggling to pay current rates and who may have to find extra money to fund future wage expectations from their already cut ­to­the bone budgets, sleep in payments and travel costs are also impacting care providers. Finding quality care staff is proving challenging, whilst affordable housing, difficult to find, is causing staff to travel significant distances to get to work. Competition from other industry sectors such as Hospitality and Retail is consistently diminishing the talent pool. Finally, as if that were not enough, the real prospect of Brexit impacting upon the numbers of foreign
workers available within a workforce that has a significant non ­British element.
So, who is social care going to attract? We need people who really care, who have experienced caring for someone or who have been cared for and want to give back, but most of all we need people who want to make a difference to the lives of others!
Care work is incredibly responsible! We need to attract more people into the care sector by educating and changing the public’s perception of working in care. It’s not all about ‘giving personal care’­ it’s much more diverse. Working in Adult Social Care is a profession, a career, which offers applicants, different job roles, various entry levels, job progression, and a plethora of career pathways to explore. It takes 4­6 weeks to train up someone with little or no experience of working in the sector, investment in workers from an employer’s perspective is a ‘win­win’ for both parties. A care worker, who is passionate, will go above and beyond the call of duty, most are giving 110% or more in many cases – their commitment and professionalism is stupendous!
Care work offers huge job satisfaction...I love my job! The more you put into it – the more you get out of it! Just seeing someone’s face change from sad to happy is wonderful – a smile says so much – I think to myself I did that, it’s me making a huge difference to their life! I can’t understand why people aren’t queuing up to work in our sector! It’s mad. I think it’s mainly because they don’t know enough about working in care. Their preconceived assumptions are so, so wrong!
We need to recognise and celebrate staff working in our sector to ensure we secure ‘the right people’ to care for ‘real lives’. I think we also need to build key messages in all our communications with the public, so that we attract people who recognise themselves in the values needed to work and stay working in our sector. The OACP Care Awards 2016 were incredibly valuable, they highlighted the ‘natural capacity people have to care for others’ it was great to focus and celebrate individuals who make a huge difference to the lives of those in their care!’
Staff perspectives...
Jennifer writes: ‘I have been a member of The Camden Society, Oxford team for the past four years having previously been employed by Oxfordshire County Council for 14 years supporting adults with learning disabilities to live full and independent lives where possible in the way they choose. Although the main
challenges remain the same, being part of a smaller, flatter team does have its advantages. Having regular contact with the Directors is very beneficial to the service, I am encouraged to feed back ideas and information from the people I support, this builds greater awareness and allows us to continuously enhance our ‘person centred’ support services. I believe by understanding and actively listening to the concerns of the people we support, only then, can we in the care sector, deliver the kind of support services that truly reflect the needs of the individual.
The Camden Society is excellent at advocating and campaigning for positive change for people who have learning disabilities, organising events such as the ‘Great Escape’ and more recently the ‘50 Years celebration’ of The Camden Society’s work, which took place in London last November ­ both were uplifting and inspiring events. Staff and people supported are actively involved in these positive and inclusive events. 260 people who are supported and staff members came together to celebrate the last 50 years work and most contributed in some way. Unity Kitchens created the excellent three­course dinner, one of the eight high street Cafes run by The Camden Society. The Cafes help people with learning disabilities to gain skills and qualifications and many go on to work in the catering sector. This sort of event is what The Camden Society does really well – long may it continue!’
Yannick writes: ‘I’ve been working for The Camden Society, Oxford for four years now and I can honestly say that I have had a very positive experience in that time. I have received good training, which has enabled me to work confidently. I find the working environment very good and have enjoyed building up a good rapport with the people I support and with my fellow colleagues’.
Grace writes: ‘I am very happy working for The Camden Society, Oxford. The organisation is very supportive and management always listen to any concerns or issues that may present in relation to the ‘service users’ I support. My only real concern is that I put a great deal of effort into my job, which is as it should be. However, I would really appreciate this effort to be reflected in a pay rise consistent with increases in the cost of living in Oxfordshire. I work with a really good team of people, we support one another, which is very important’.
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