Be the can change lives

By Cllr John Spence 
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care

If you want a world of variety, the opportunity to change people’s lives, and the chance to be truly innovative, then read on.

Adult Social Care has one of the most inaccurate perceptions of any type of work.  On behalf of Essex County Council, I invite you to consider the myriad of possibilities that a career – and I mean a career, and not just a job – in social care can provide.

Possibilities include going out to people’s homes and helping them live independently; providing therapy that will restore people’s wellbeing; and working with care homes and providers so that we achieve the best standards in the country.  

Or you can be on the leading edge of development, like our Virtual Dementia Tour training team, who recently won gold at the national Social Worker of the Year Awards.  And there are numerous options for progressing professional qualifications.

Further on in this supplement, you will read some heart-warming stories, but these only give you the merest glimpse of the rich world that is Adult Social Care.

I hope you enjoy reading this supplement, more importantly, I hope this article inspires you to consider working within the care sector. People who work for us in Essex County Council face challenges and, sometimes difficult tasks, but they equally have fun, derive great satisfaction and are a constant source of pride for people like me.

Consider changing your life to have the chance to change the lives of others.  Consider stepping aboard this train of pride.

New Year is an occasion where many people often take time to reflect and make changes in their lives. 

As a result, we have many local residents who have chosen to work within the care sector – providing help and support to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.  There is a local need to increase the number of people entering employment in the sector.  However, this means there are lots of local opportunities to find full time or part time work, and you can find hours to suit you. Please visit

Caring for others is one of the most rewarding and important things that we can do in life.  It’s important to remember though, that we need to empower people, so they can continue to help themselves to live independently, (with their loved ones), in the comfort of their own home for as long as it is safe to do so.

Many local residents have been helped and empowered to live fulfilled and enriched lives because of the care and support they have received – despite the barriers they face every day.  Kathaleen – who is deaf and blind emigrated from Canada and felt isolated and lonely until she joined a group with Deafblind UK. Since then, Kathaleen has turned her life around, she’s made lots of friends and has started her own support group to help others. 

I hope you enjoy the heart-warming stories from those people who work in care and those people who receive care. People who are really making a difference in our county. 

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Cllr John Spence 
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care

Life’s good for Stewart

Stewart went into care at the age of 16 and learnt negative behaviours and was given few opportunities.  

Due to his autistic traits, he thinks and receives information very literally, and has struggled with social skills. 
Stewart says: “In November 2015, a fantastic opportunity was given to me by Aldanat Care that changed my life, I was given the chance to live in my own flat in supported living services.

“This was just the opportunity I needed, and a full support and growth plan was put in place for me. Since coming into supported living my key life skills have grown enormously. I was hardly able to do anything for myself but I now have a whole range of skills to draw upon.”

“I can cook easy to medium and difficult meals from scratch, keep my flat clean and maintain my own hygiene with little or no prompting from staff. I plan my budget with staff and I also have a rolling four-week healthy menu plan, which I do my shopping list for on a Monday, and go shopping with staff, participating fully in all aspects of this, from planning, purchasing, putting away and using all items purchased.

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"I also attend many activities each week from playing pool six days a week, right through to going swimming three times a week, going to the cinema and the best thing is, I now have a season ticket for Colchester United and attend all their home games, and a few away games!

“I have also recently lost 9lb in just two weeks of increased exercise and better diet, so I’m definitely pleased with this and looking forward to more great results when I’m weighed in a few weeks.

“This year I proved the biggest leap in my achievements yet! I spent five days away with two members of staff in Norfolk. 

“I stayed in a fantastic villa, supported myself with my meals, with staff help, did many amazing activities, from visiting Yarmouth Sea life Centre, Africa Alive Wildlife park and, get this……I drove a boat with staff for two hours on the Norfolk broads.  So life is really good for me now, and it just keeps getting better, and a holiday to Cornwall is being discussed. My cooking skills improve nearly every day through my menu and trying all new meals, and I have a great routine in place with my staff!

“I’ve received fantastic support from my staff at Aldanat Care. I want to have a good life, listen to advice, I’m always willing to learn new skills, improve my life and always looking ahead.”

Virtual Dementia Tour team wins gold award

Social workers in the adult social care teams in Essex are celebrating after the Virtual Dementia Tour training team won gold at the Social Worker of the Year Awards 2017 in the Creative & Innovative Social Work Practice category.

he Virtual Dementia Tour training team, offer a unique and emotive insight into what it is like to live with dementia in order that those trained can support and help people across Essex living with dementia, with more understanding of their daily life.

It is a scientifically proven method of giving a person with a healthy brain an experience of what dementia might be like. By using specialised equipment each person is given a set of simple tasks to be completed whilst their senses are impaired by use of additional equipment/aids to simulate:

  • Loss of auditory interpretation and increased confusion
  • Loss of sensory nerves and fine motor skills
  • Loss of central and peripheral vision
  • Onset of arthritis 

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Whilst attempting the completion of tasks the learner will – for a very short period of time - have the same cognitive abilities as someone with mid-stage Alzheimers disease and allows them to “walk in their shoes”.

It also teaches participants about environment, equipment and personal changes they can make to help people living with dementia, and those who care for them have a less challenging life. Eleven staff at Essex County Council have become trainers and between them trained over 350 staff, including the chief executive.

The judges described the training as ‘truly ground breaking’ and that the nomination stood tall, above the rest. The team themselves are very grateful and pleased that the hard work that the team put in has been recognised at a national level.

Inspiration and fulfilment at Millard House

Millard House in Bocking, Braintree has seen some great improvements over the past 18 months. 

There have been positive changes within the home due to new ownership and the introduction of the FaNs network, a network of volunteers who make a difference. 

Gary, a volunteer has become a valued member of the Millard House family. He helps the residents and offers much valued companionship. 

Another volunteer who is a real hit with the residents and staff is a young girl by the name of Megane who visited Millard House as a member of the Lyons Hall School Choir (who also volunteer their time to sing for the residents). 

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Megane then decided that she would like to become a volunteer through the FaNs network because of her experience at Millard House. Megane plays games, chats with residents, and helps to prepare dining areas for lunchtime. 

Since the changes, the residents have a renewed sense of emotional wellbeing and are much happier and fulfilled and shows that with the right care home environment, residents can still live a very happy and fulfilled life.

Stuart changed career and is now supporting the most vulnerable

Throughout his career Stuart has always been with people working as part of a team. 

He moved swiftly and successfully from one job to another until he found himself needing to care for his terminally ill mother. 

Sadly Stuart’s mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in February 2015. He cared for her, moving back home and taking leave from his employer until she passed away in October that same year.

During this time, Stuart decided that he wanted to change his career and wanted to care for others. He updated his CV and secured a role as Support Worker at Consensus at Valley House in 2016. 

The first few weeks were challenging for Stuart. Within a new service (which itself was setting up new processes and taking in new people needing support) he spent his first two months on a steep learning curve working with some of the most complex individuals he had ever met. 

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Stuart continued learning and providing support whilst the support team changed and adapted meeting the needs of the individuals. Stuart was offered the opportunity to support one individual more closely. Andrew, the person he supports, was possibly the most complex individual within the home at the time. 

Both Stuart and the key worker began developing a revised support plan which would enable him to develop greater skills and open up opportunities to access the local community and a number of activities never offered before.

Stuart takes great pride in the fact that he has gone from being unaccepted by Andrew, to now accompanying him on bike rides, taking a pedalo on the local lake and regular health visits to unfamiliar places. 
It has taken a great deal of hard work, forming an in depth understanding of Andrew’s behaviours, needs and building trust and confidence.

Stuart feels proud that he is now a Senior Support Worker and said: “It has been amazing to watch the transition that Andrew has made. It’s all about trust and building confidence. It is a joy to see.” 
When asked what makes his job so special Stuart says; “It’s the little things. It might be Andrew or another individual saying my name or even writing it. 

“It could be getting out into the community enjoying an activity together or just making a valued contribution to the team.”

Rewarding careers at Riverdale Care Home

Westgate Healthcare is delighted to announce its newest development, Riverdale Care Home, will be opening in the summer of 2018 in Braintree, bringing with it new and exciting employment opportunities to Essex. 

If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding career in care where you can make a real difference to the quality of our residents’ lives, then Westgate Healthcare would love to hear from you. 
Join them for an informal chat and learn more about joining the Westgate family. 

There are fantastic opportunities on offer and they are also looking for volunteers to bring added sparkle to their home. So whatever your aspirations are, they would be delighted to meet you. 
Riverdale Care Home will be a luxury facility in a stunning setting with calming aspects over the River Brain. 

With just 32 bedrooms, Riverdale has been created to offer a safe, intimate and homely environment with exceptional facilities. 
These include our sensory courtyard garden and potting shed, spa salon for sensory and massage therapy, a fine dining room to help support residents in entertaining family and friends if they wish and a café, where residents and relatives can enjoy tea and cake in a social setting.
Westgate Healthcare is a family-run group and all of their care homes have been rated as ‘Good’ by regulator, The Care Quality Commission (CQC).  

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They are seeking the very best people to join the team. Those who are driven by genuine compassion and believe in quality care and who want to follow a real and exciting career pathway that allows them to make a difference. 

They help team members to be the very best they can be and make sure that they’re well rewarded with competitive pay rates, free training and development and flexible working hours and benefits. 
Visit or you can contact a member of the recruitment team on 0800 024 8756 or email 

Volunteering leads to a successful career

Darren Bentley (26), is a support worker at Peaceful Place in Rochford.  
Peaceful Place is a day centre which focuses on providing active, stimulating and person centred activities for young people (under 65) with a diagnosis of early onset dementia.  

His role involves planning and leading activities as diverse as quizzes, reminiscence sessions, exercise, dancing, art sessions and many more. 

He also supports people on days out, cooking lunch and supporting people at meal times and with minor personal care duties.  

There are challenges, like any job. For him it’s seeing people he has come close to deteriorate as their condition develops. However, he is able to support and care for them when their dementia progresses.

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His care career began when he started volunteering at the centre nearly six years ago, something he would advocate to any young person to help them decide if a career in care is right for them. As he says, “if you are at college (and have a spare morning or afternoon) giving a few hours of your time may lead to a new and fulfilling career, knowing that every day you are making a difference to someone’s life.” 

His proudest achievement, to date, is completing his NVQ Level 3 in health and social care, something he was supported to do during his time at Peaceful Place and he is looking forward to the next step in his career in care.

Reablement restores Josie’s confidence

Josie’s husband sadly passed away six months ago and her family helped her move 150 miles to Essex so she could be closer to them. 

In losing her familiar routine and social networks Josie became isolated and depressed. Her depression led her to lose confidence in using household appliances such as her oven, microwave and shower.

During a period of illness Josie sought help from her GP who identified that she would benefit from a period of reablement and made a community referral.

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Over the next four weeks Essex Cares Ltd (ECL) worked with Josie, reminding her how to use her appliances, adding labels and notes around her home to support when the carers were not around, aiding her with meal preparation and personal care. As her wellbeing improved, the care assistants encouraged Josie to go along to the local craft club, something she had enjoyed previously. Gradually Josie started to feel more confident and positive. At the point her reablement ended she told the team: “You have given me hope, something a couple of months ago I thought I would never have.”

ECL’s reablement services aim to restore confidence and re-establish independence within the home. By supporting customers like Josie with a wide range of tasks including personal care, meal preparation and medication management, ECL enables recovery of individual wellbeing and independence.

Whatever age, wishes can come true

‘If you had one wish, what would it be?’ That’s the question being asked of residents at Corner Lodge in Jaywick. 
The Wishing Tree was introduced in May 2017, to encourage residents to fulfil one of their dreams. The answers are written on leaves and hung on a lighted tree in the lounge. 

Activity Coordinator, Debbie Collins works with others to turn wishes into reality. 
The Wishing Tree made RAF veteran, Richard Chaplin’s wish come true to fly a plane. During World World II, Richard served as a cook and was in awe of the pilots in his unit. 

Debbie Collins and Richard’s family worked together to make this dream a reality. 

Richard’s daughter, Beryl, escorted Richard to the Clacton Air Field where a pilot was standing by and his family was waiting. 
Richard was accompanied on his flight by his daughter, Karen, and one of his grandsons.

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Another of our residents, Joan Lacey, wished to see her son who lives in Malawi. Debbie made it possible for Joan’s son Stephen to pay a surprise visit to the home to see his Mum.  

Flossie Todd expressed a wish to attend the ballet as it was a lifelong dream of hers.  

Debbie found that the Princess Theatre in Clacton was holding a production of the classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty set to Tchaikovsky’s music and booked tickets for them to both attend.

Flossie said: “Out of all my memories from the past, this was my favourite and it was the best night of my life.”

Debbie said: “It was wonderful to grant yet another wish for one of our residents.  The pure look of joy on their faces is so wonderful and we hope to carry on making more wishes come true for our residents at Corner Lodge.”

Doris Woodward’s wish was to ride in a Rolls Royce car. Doris’s father has worked for the company and Debbie was contacted very kindly by Colin from Luxury and Classic Wedding Cars who was only too happy to help Doris’ wish come true. 

Doris was picked up in a 1975 Silver Shadow Rolls Royce and taken for the ride of her life around the seafront and town centre. 
Corner Lodge is a very special place where wishes do come true. 

Party time at Broomhill

School children from Watermans Primary School, in Rochford, brought smiles to the faces of residents at Broomhill Care Home. 

The school children visited the care home in Rochford each week, speaking and engaging with residents about the theme of ‘Party Time’ and sharing experiences on what a celebration means to both generations. Both the care home residents and children created an animation of their experiences which was screened at a sharing event at the school. 

One of the residents, said: “The children were very friendly and listened to us. We learnt a lot from them and we loved every minute of it and really appreciated that they came to see us each week.”

One of the children who took part in the project, said: “I really enjoyed working as a team, working together to create the animation and playing games - I never wanted the project to end.”

Broomhills Care Home Activity coordinator, Nicola Faulkner said: “The animation activity has been wonderful. Residents have learnt that even if they think they can’t do something they can still get involved in some way and make something brilliant. It’s just important to give it a go. 

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“Since the project has started there have been some dramatic changes and improvements in some of our residents and new friendships have been made within the home.”

‘Magic Me’, the UK’s leading provider of intergenerational projects, mentored two award winning artists, animation and installation artist Emma Curtis and film maker Jane Gull, working with the school and the care home.  

Magic Me are part of ‘Creative Journeys’, a two year Arts Council Funded research project led by the Essex County Council Cultural Development Team in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University. It aims to generate evidence for the social value of arts with older people in residential care by working with innovative cultural organisations: including Age Exchange, Green Candle Dance Company and Orchestras Live in partnership with Sinfonia Viva, working in care homes across Essex.

A role model for the deafblind community

Kathaleen is a role model for deaf blind people and has set up her own support group through Mark, her Community Engagement Officer at DeafBlind UK. 

She was born deaf and started to lose her sight aged 35. 
Now in her 60s, she has just five per cent of her central vision left, making everyday tasks extremely difficult. 

When Kathaleen moved to the UK from Canada in 2011 she felt lonely and isolated. She joined a local visual impairment (VI) group. 

She said “I really enjoyed the VI group and instantly felt welcomed, but I just didn’t fit in as no one really understood what it was like to have visual and hearing impairments. So when someone told me about the Deafblind UK group I was there in a shot! I went along to the first group and thought “this is where I belong” - it felt like a big family full of other people just like me.”  

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Kathaleen has been going to the group ever since and has formed a close circle of friends. 

She said: “I now have a fantastic social situation and I no longer feel alone. I absolutely love the groups, they make me feel good.” 

With Deafblind UK’s support, Mark and Kathaleen arranged for her group to go to the recent BBC Relaxed Prom, in London. Kathaleen said “It was fantastic, we all really enjoyed it and we can’t wait to go again.”

Mark said: “Kathaleen has gained much more confidence since I have known her and now uses buses and taxis and now does her own shopping. Her confidence grows each day.”
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Gemma’s decade working in care

Gemma has been with Zero Three Care for over 10 years and has risen up through the organisation to the position of Home Manager.

She loves to work with like-minded people every day, people who care and people who enjoy making a difference in our service users’ lives.  

Gemma said: “I feel privileged because the guys we look after are amazing and although they need our support to get the most out of their lives they just give back so much emotionally.” 

In the ten years, Gemma has achieved her NVQ Level 3 in Health and Social Care and her Level 5 in Leadership and Management, and loves to support new staff.  

She recalled how proud she was to have had a role in developing another Zero Three Care Home Manager who she initially interviewed and appointed as a support worker with no previous experience in care.  Over the years Gemma has trained and supported him through the roles of Senior Support Worker and Team Leader, and finally into the position of Manager of his own home.

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We asked how Gemma would sum up her 10 years. 

“Ten to twelve months into the job we had a new service user move into the house. 

“During the transition we were told he was a very ‘difficult’ individual. 

“After getting to know him and gaining insight into his autism (with the help of the Clinical Team) it became clear that this was not at all true.  

“Once he was provided with the right environment and understanding I discovered he was one of the most caring and loving people you could meet, crying and hugging me when a number of years later I had to tell him I was moving on to another one of our homes and would no longer be his Home Manager.”

If Gemma’s story has inspired you then please get in touch on 01376 574 150.

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