Small Employer of Year 2019/20 – Independent Options
Since 1977, Independent Options has been working to empower people with disabilities, enabling them to take control of their lives, achieve their aspirations and enjoy life to the full.
Independent Options offer a range of highly personalised support services for children and adults who have a wide range of disabilities. They work with people who have learning disabilities, autism, physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries and mental health needs.
Society places barriers in the way of people with disabilities and those who love and care for them. However, Independent options cater for these individuals with the right support, therefore families and carers are able to cope better and people with disabilities can reach their potential and lead fulfilling lives. They enable people with disabilities to live the life they want and also ease pressure on families.
We started working with Independent Options through the first lockdown in May 2020, discussing with them what their organisation needed and how we can help and support them with staff training and development.
Christine McPartland (Director of HR) within Independent Options worked together with Jules Westbrook (Business Development Manager) at DH Associates, looking at their training needs and requirements. An expression of interest was sent to Manchester Levy match making service, and a Levy donor was found. They were able to obtain full funding for a number of individuals within Independent Options to complete their qualifications. 16 staff have been placed on various apprenticeship programmes which they are currently pursuing and submitting work.
Independent Options receive regular reviews with DH Associates where they are given updates on funding, grants available as well as progressions of individuals and how else DH Associates can help build and support there business. We are continuing to support the organisation through the pandemic and to motivate learners through their qualifications with different methods of learning.
“Working with DH Associates has been a very positive experience for our organization. When we first started working with Jules Westbrook I was a little overwhelmed by the process of registering for a Digital account and trying to find funding for our training program. However with the support and guidance from DH Associates and Jules in particular it has been a clear and straightforward experience.
As a social care charity money is always our first consideration and we are so pleased to be able to offer our staff the opportunity to have fully funded training programs. The apprenticeship program has allowed us to offer a range of training options to staff at all levels, tailored to each individual. We have offered training programmes to up skill our existing staff which has resulted in two staff being promoted within the organisation. We have been able to offer new staff coming into their first social care job a career structure and a recognized qualification.
Independent Options is very grateful to our Levy donor for making this possible. The continuing support we receive from DH Associates is extremely important and they have been able to support our learners throughout the recent difficult times. Feedback from the learners has been positive and where there has been any issues, the trainers and business development team, have been able to deal with these in a supportive way with the learner. This means that the learner and their manager feel confident that the training program will be successful. “
Christine Mcpartland (Director of HR) Independent Options
Large Employer of Year 2019/20 – Alternative Futures Group
Matthew Clarke founded Alternative Futures on the 22nd January 1992. It then went on to gain its charitable status in February of that year
Alternative Futures Group (AFG) is a North West-based not for profit health and social care charity provider. They employ over 2,400 staff and support around 1,200 people with a range of learning disabilities and mental health issues through innovative and digital connected support. They provide personalised services that which are tailored to meet the specific needs of the individuals that they support. They provide support in a variety of ways through – supported living and community outreach services, Independent hospitals and complex care support.
We first started working with AFG in 2015, this was a commercial contract to deliver care qualifications to their staff. With the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in 2017 and AFG now paying into it, DH Associates supported the company to utilise their levy fund by putting staff onto suitable apprenticeship programmes.
Since then, Keren Jamieson, AFG Learning & Organisational Development Manager, has worked closely with Michelle Cannon, Business Development Manager at DH Associates, to develop apprenticeship programmes and content that are bespoke to the needs of the employer, learner and service.
AFG have over 40 employees on apprenticeship programmes currently and want all unqualified staff to access learning and qualifications. Keren is committed to ensuring equal access for all staff to learning and career development. She has created an online learning platform that staff can access that builds confidence and engages staff prior to then progress onto an apprenticeship programme.
DH Associates carry out regular reviews with AFG; updating them on, any changes that have taken place regarding funding, incentives, qualifications and learners progress. We continually supporting the employer, adapting our training to meet there needs during the current climate.
Keren is planning activities for Apprenticeship Week to promote their apprenticeship offer. In partnership with DHA she is running a ‘meet the provider’ remote session over two days, during which AFG staff will be able to ask questions to find out more about an apprenticeship programme.
“Working with DH Associates has been a great experience from the onset. Our main point of contact has been Michelle, with whom we immediately developed a very positive working relationship due to her friendly manner as well as her extensive knowledge. The communication with DHA has always been excellent by keeping us up to date with learner progress, highlighting successes and flagging any concerns so people can be supported quickly. Throughout the pandemic restrictions, particularly within our sector, DHA have been creative and innovative in their approach to enable learners to continue with their apprenticeships whilst being sensitive and flexible to the demands of the learners roles, which has included providing support outside of normal working hours. We value the knowledge and expertise they have in the Health & Social Care sector, and in particular the experience the assessors have in the field. The feedback from our learners is that they feel supported by the assessors, particular in these challenging times. Below are some of the things the learners have recently told us”:
Damian McHugh and Alison Everett (Learning Leads) Alternative Futures – 05/02/21
“There have been challenges, particularly in the current climate trying to manage the effects of covid-19 on my services and working additional hours most weeks, whilst also trying to manage the workload for my NVQ. However, my assessor (Jodie Dobson) has always been available to go through questions and wording that I did not fully understand and has guided me through the knowledge required for each unit.”
Kelly Vernon TL
“I was allocated Jodie Dobson as my new assessor she was approachable and I felt that no question would be seen as a stupid one. We met on a monthly basis to talk through the units and see what were the next batch we were going to do. This routine changed however with the onset of the Covid pandemic which changed how the support was given this became telephone support and observations were signed off by my Manager. I was even able to change one of my units towards the end of my apprenticeship as I was interested in doing the unit around mental health this was particularly useful as I reflected on it and used some of the knowledge to support a person going through a mental health episode. I have really enjoyed doing this apprenticeship and recognise that you are never too old to increase your knowledge and skill base to use within my working practice.”
Jeannie Dargue SW
“Over all I have found my experience very pleasant, all the work that I had to complete was emailed over to myself on my forskills profile, this was very well set out and easy to understand. I was having monthly face to face meetings with my assessor at the beginning which were very beneficial for me, unfortunately during Covid my meetings were moved to the telephone, my assessor made this very easy and explained everything to me, my assessor was also on hand at any point I needed advice or some assistance with my work. I found the work set and the wording of the work very easy to understand and I was never overloaded with work. My assessor treated me as an individual and made my time completing this very positive.”
Danielle Carr SW
Celebrating apprenticeship week – working together!!!
“Working with DHA has been brilliant from the start!
They have understood my training development requirements, when I was looking for quotes elsewhere to find the best deal available to fund the staff teams’ qualifications. I was guided by DH Associates through the funding streams available. It turned out that DHA found us qualifications that were fully funded from a Levy donor who could help a small business like ours out which was fantastic!!!
Also DH Associates have gone the extra mile in supporting a staff member to be signed up and through his assessment and the regular communication from Jules Westbrook and Ange Roberts it has been great. They have supported me to understand the new online apprentice account and has given me regular updates on the staff’s progress. I have access to an online portal where I can view the staff team’s progress in real time which helps us to identify if they need further support to get their assignments completed. Feedback from our staff have been really positive.
DHA will significantly help us with the development of our staff and in turn will help us achieve better outcomes, progress and experiences for our young people. We believe in apprenticeship programmes and giving our staff the right knowledge, skills and behaviours.”
Celebrating apprenticeship week – working together!!!
Standwalk were established in 1999 as a provider of care for adults with Learning Disabilities. Since opening our first care home in 1999 we have grown from strength to strength and currently have 13 care homes and approximately 280 employees.
At Standwalk we recognise the value of apprenticeship programmes in that they provide ongoing learning for the apprentice whilst also providing skill development in putting their learning into practice. Staff who undertake an apprenticeship are eager and motivated to learn which can result in a stronger workforce and ultimately better care for our residents, which is something we all want. Also, apprenticeships are good value for money in that the carer upskills so provides better care and the cost to Standwalk is minimal. A great business investment.
Standwalk work closely with DH Associates because they have a proven track record in delivering results for the learners and this has proven a wise choice in that most of our staff on an apprenticeship are nearing completion of their qualifications.
The impact on Standwalk, the learners are putting their knowledge into practice and so are providing better care for our residents. Out of the employees that have started an apprenticeship, only one has left the company so this indicates that staff who undertake an apprenticeship tend to stay with the company longer, seem to be more committed to the company as we have invested in them. Great staff retention saving costs on recruitment.
On a personal note, since working with DH Associates, I have found them to be dedicated and professional. It is always a breath of fresh air to deal with an organisation that is always prompt, polite and professional and that is what DH Associates are.
Business Support Manager
CELEBRATING APPRENTICESHIP WEEK
ROC Northwest Ltd offers residential care and education for children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Learning, Physical Disabilities and complex needs with associated challenging behaviour and young people with SEBD.
I have been working with ROC Northwest as the Training and Induction lead, now for over 12 months.
Within that time, I have developed a significant working relationship with the staff at DH Associates. Working in conjunction with DHA to improve the knowledge, skills and behaviours of our staff members and provide them with solid foundations for delivering the best quality care and support for all our young people via apprenticeship programmes.
Our learners are supported at every stage of their learning journey, both by ourselves, and DH Associates.
Our learners appreciate the input that comes from DHA in facilitating them to achieve their qualification, and reach their career goals and attain their apprenticeship, which is recognised qualification throughout the UK.
With this support, we as a company have benefited a great deal, with our staff increasing their knowledge, understanding and confidence in fulfilling their role.
Training and Induction Lead
Learner of the Year 2019/20: Michelle Woodcock
Michelle entered the social care sector in 2016, she joined us at the very start of our new complex services being opened in line with The Transforming Care Agenda. Michelle was a key worker for an individual who had been in a locked hospital environment for 27 years. Weekly Michelle would drive for 2 hours each way to build a relationship and Michelle and this service user are now amongst the Northwest’s greatest achievements.
Michelle is a sponge and takes her development extremely seriously; she encourages her teams to take advantage of every learning opportunity possible. She was the most proactive of my team in having her team take advantage of the lead to succeed programme. Her biggest tool in selling this was her fast track story of her own development from Support Worker to Service Manager in 4 years, with a promotion every 12 months. She was a driving force in the Outstanding rating for the Complete Care and Enablement DCA, the inspector described her passion and was blown away with how she encouraged her team to push boundaries.
Michelle not only completed her level 5 and used this to improve her practice but she also managed to push herself to do so in record time through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The success of her development is truly a social care success story; she was awarded a Frontline Leader Award at 2019 Northwest Great British Care Awards and was Highly Commended by the National Judges. Her team has four finalist for 2020. To manage Michelle is an absolute privilege and I am even more excited for the years to come and her further development. Also a thank you to Jackie her tutor at DHA for her support.
Jo Withington, Area Manager, Caretech.
EPA First Distinction
We are Proud to announce that one of our learners Lisa Jacob at Leonard Cheshire has achieved Distinction in her End Point Assessment. Many Congratulations Lisa and her Trainer Vicky.
We are sure this will be the first of many distinctions for our learners.
Learner of the Year 2018/19: Dimple Singh
Small Employer of the Year 2018/19: Bluebird Care, Bury
Large Employer of the Year 2018/19: David Lewis
Learner of the year 2017/18: Nicola Depledge
Nicola has worked for Bluebird Care Bury for four years. She has completed her Health and Social Care Apprenticeships at level 2 and at Level 3. She moved on to develop her leadership skills completing her ILM Level 2 Team Leader qualification and is now nearing completion of her Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship in Leadership and Management.
Nicola explained that she feels that the progression from level 2 through to Level 5 has been beneficial to her and Bluebird Care Bury. She feels that using the apprenticeship routes made available to her have helped her to develop new knowledge, developed her skills and given her a better understanding of her role and responsibilities and the needs of vulnerable people.
When informed that she has been chosen as our apprentice of the year Nicola stated that she feels very proud.
Small Employer of the year 2017/18: Home Instead Warrington
The Warrington office of Home Instead Senior Care opened on 1st June 2007 and is based at Warrington Business Park. Home Instead Senior care makes a difference to the individual clients and to their family members by investing in their staff through the apprenticeship program.
“We really value the support from DHA, the assessor’s we have had really go that extra mile to bring out the potential of the candidates. We have seen a real difference in the confidence, knowledge and the motivation of staff.
As a company DHA are always very responsive to all the various needs that crop up. I would never consider changing to another company “they feel like friends.
I value training and development extremely highly; our vision is to bring out the potential of our care givers to be extraordinary in all they do and how they feel about themselves. So working with DH is perfect, they share our values and are a great team.
We will continue to invest in apprenticeships regardless of the 10% contribution as trained staff out whey the risk factors of having unqualified staff”.
Large Employer of the year 2017/18: Future Directions
Future Directions is a valuesbased high quality care provider. Their intention is to drive the personalisation agenda so that each individual they support has their own support package to meet their individual support needs.
Future directions provide services across the North West and plan to expand further. They have invested in the Apprenticeship scheme and are seeing the benefits of a well trained workforce.
“Future Directions CIC are committed 100% to the support and development of its staff. We recognise that by making this investment it helps Future Directions to maintain and improve the company and overall social care: standards, safety, productivity and flexibility. It has also help to reduce our staff turnover and sickness.
Our commitment is evident from the top of the organisation and you often hear our Managing Director, Paula Braynion quoting Ricard Branson: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.
During July 16 we started to work with DH Associates who have 100% complimented our learning and development offer to our staff. Future Directions have found them to be supportive and responsive to our needs. Since April 17 Nicky Bagshaw (Employment & Engagement Officer) has been particularly helpful in supporting us on our journey along the Apprenticeship Pathway”.
Learner of the Year 2016/17 – Richard McFarlane
Richard works for Wirral Autism Together and was apprehensive about starting an apprenticeship. Richard has shown a real drive to achieve his qualifications and is extremely proud of his achievement. This is his story.
“In 2012 I had a stroke, which left me partially sighted along with other cognitive problems, a few months after starting work as a support worker for Autism Together, thankfully they kept my job open for me after nearly a year off sick, as I would not have been able to return to my previous career as a taxi driver and lorry driver which I did for over 30 years.
I was given the opportunity to do the Advanced Apprenticeship in Social Care. At the age of 52 I was a bit unsure if I wanted to do it or if I was capable of learning, but I surprised myself, I found it challenging but interesting.
I received excellent support from my assessor Carrie Butters who was very patient and took the time to answer any questions, especially with the Maths and English. Carrie was an organised and excellent mentor.
Completing the apprenticeship has given me confidence to do my job and made me think about my role as a support worker and the decisions I make when supporting service users”
Apprenticeship Employer of the Year 2016/17 (Large Organisations) – Leonard Cheshire Oakwood
Corrine Waters and her senior team have shown outstanding commitment in supporting their staff undertaking apprenticeships at intermediate, advanced and higher levels. The work environment is challenging as it is a specialist service supporting individuals with an acquired brain injury. They purchased resources to support learning and provided support to individuals to enable them to complete work set, which has kept learners on target hence the dedication to completing their qualifications. Some of the support team have progressed and been promoted to a Senior role as they have developed more skills and Knowledge with in their role taking on more responsibility.
They have supported the assessors when in the building and made sure each learner attends their agreed appointment. They have excellent communication with all parties involved ie learner, seniors, assessor and management. Corrine has always been dedicated in enabling staff to learn and develop as it is essential for them to have the confidence and ability to support the clients.
Apprenticeship Employer of the Year 2016/17 (SME) – Choice Care
Choice Care is domiciliary company based in Blackburn that provides support with aspects of daily living for individuals living in the surrounding area. Choice Care has achieved the award of SME Employer of the Year 2017 due to the Manager’s and company`s commitment to training and development of the staff team.
There is an expectation amongst all staff that they undertake and achieve their intermediate apprenticeship in Social Care. The company ensures that staff are supported to attend all necessary appointments and rotas are managed effectively around this. The Manager is closely involved in the progression and achievement of staff and on a daily basis communicates with the assessor on the progress of learners. Any problems are dealt with effectively and instantly—resulting in no loss of time or support for the learners.
All staff are encouraged and supported to progress further in their learning and many have progressed onto the advanced apprenticeship, with some being promoted and undertaking the higher apprenticeship.
Choice Care believes in supporting their staff in developing and recognising the efforts that are put in. They hold an annual Awards Evening at the local football ground, with a 3 course meal and entertainment provided as a thank you to the hard work, commitment and quality care that is provided. Awards are given related to the quality of care provided, feedback received from individuals, and the passion shown within their role. A member of staff is chosen as “Carer of the Year” and automatically entered into the national competition
Case Study – Pauline Kelly
Pauline has worked at Heathfield Residential Care Home in Grappenhall, Warrington, for over 3 years. She is originally from Kent and moved to Warrington when her husband, who is in the forces, moved base to the North West. It has been over twenty years since she first worked in care and came back to it after realising how passionate she is about being a care giver and loves working in the community where she lives.
As an ‘Investors in People accredited’ home and Commended by the ‘Social Care Institute of Excellence for Innovative Practice’, the management team at Heathfield invest in their staff’s development. Heathfield manager Glenys said “We appreciate the value of having a skilled workforce, in many ways it helps improve the service we provide, we promote learning in the workplace and incentivise staff by increasing the hourly wage on achievement”.
When she was first approached by her manager about doing a level 2 Health and Social Care qualification Pauline was extremely apprehensive as she hadn’t done anything like it since school. Her assessor Eileen commented that she was a particularly nervous leaner but soon saw her confidence grow as she progressed through the units. Pauline soon realised how much she enjoyed learning about the sector in which she was working. She commented that “I found the qualification challenging, but in a good way”. She particularly enjoyed the research aspect of the qualification, which helped developed her knowledge and understanding in infection control and Health and Safety, which she could then apply to the service she was providing to her two ladies. As the home specialises in Dementia care she found she could identify more with this element of the qualification and now has a greater appreciation of the diversity of the disease, realising the importance of providing a person centred approach to the care she delivers, watching and listening more to her ladies to ensure her care is meeting their complex needs.
The massive sense of achievement that Pauline has experienced has given her a huge confidence boost, and has also inspired her daughter to perhaps take the plunge and start a career in Health and Social care in the future. Pauline is now considering progressing to the Level 3 Apprenticeship but not before she has the summer off to give herself a little break!
Case Study – Parkhaven Trust, Maghull, Liverpool
Parkhaven Trust is a registered charity based in Maghull, North Liverpool, providing a wide range of services to support people with dementia, older people and people with learning disabilities. The Trust aims to be an organisation that includes, supports, respects and empowers residents, service users and staff. They give high priority to supporting and developing the skills of their staff and encouraging links with the local community.
Parkhaven Trust employs approximately 200 people, many of whom work part time. The majority of posts are based at one of their many services across the Trust, providing direct care. They have a number of staff who have worked for the Trust for over 40 years and others that are at the start of their careers as apprentices.
Parkhaven Trust is proud to have achieved Investors in People – Gold Award, which is only given to organisations who can demonstrate excellence in developing and supporting their staff.
The Trust aims to ensure that 90% of all care staff achieves at least QCF Level 2 qualification in Health & Social Care. This target was set by the Board and was achieved at the end of quarter 3 2015, with the support of DH Associates.
DHA have been providing Qualifications in Health and Social Care to Parkhaven since 2013 and to date have delivered 17 Apprenticeship qualifications, ten at level 2; Five at level 3 and two at level 5, with 12 employees currently working towards a qualification.
Management at Parkhaven has always championed the development of staff and has noticed a change in attitude and behaviours since committing to the 90% skilled workforce target. The most significant difference being a greater awareness of the needs of their service users and more person centered approach. Staff too feel more valued, which was reflected in the annual staff survey results with over 95 %, indicating that they enjoyed working for Parkhaven Trust with learning and development coming out highly. Parkhaven has become an employer of choice in the local area with retention of staff higher than the sector norm. Occasionally staff leaves to train as nurses and some have returned to the Trust in a RGN post. The commitment towards the development of their staff, has contributed to CQC compliance in all areas of care.
HR Manager Mark Worden commented: “ DHA have proven to be a pivotal partner for the Trust and have ensured our staff are trained, through their qualification, to the high standard expected; they are always responsive to our needs and work collaboratively to support achievement. They are always helpful and have enabled the Trust to access funding streams which boosts our training budgets. I can’t recommend them more highly.”
One of the key findings from our recent Outstanding OFSTed report noted: “The provider has outstanding partnerships with employers and works with them very effectively to ensure apprentices’ success”. This has been demonstrated by the work we have done with Parkhaven Trust over the years and we are proud to be part of that success.
Case Study – VestaCare
VestaCare has two establishments Oakdene and Silverdene. Oakdene is a Day Care Centre for young adults with learning/physical disabilities and challenging behaviours. It opened in December 2008. Even though the service is not registered with CQC, Vesta Care maintains very high standards, ensuring promotion of independence for their service users. Oakdene has contracts with different local authorities and they visit annually to monitor the service. Silverdene is CQC registered for 19 residents across four houses with learning/physical and mental health needs. It is of mixed ages from 18yrs- 65yrs. It opened in 2005.The aim of the organisation is to support, respect and empower residents and staff. They have good local community links and strive to develop and progress staff skills.
Vesta Care employee 66 staff in total across both services all of the staff either work one to one or two to one depending on the needs of the individual.
Their aim is to have 90% of the staff team trained and qualified at level 2 in Health and Social Care and then encourage them to progress and achieve other qualifications. We at DH Associates have been working with them since 2010 delivering qualifications from intermediate, advanced to higher Level 5 apprenticeships in Health and Social Care, as well as ILM level 2, Business Admin. To date 73% of the team have achieved qualifications with DHA. At present we have 9 staff on programmes across all levels and 4 of these have progressed to higher level qualifications. We have delivered group sessions to support and enable learners to achieve their functional skills and complete their Advanced Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care within the allocate time frame.
Vesta Care have opened a Hydrotherapy pool attached to Oakdene Day Centre, this can be accessed by private clients. They have fully trained staff to support the individuals and the physiotherapist, to allow them to have a safe and enjoyable experience. They also have a new home attached to Silverdene for 6 young adults with complex physical needs.
Employer Of The Year 2015
New for 2015 we have chosen an Employer of The Year – Congratulations to Tattenhall Local Care
Tattenhall Local Care is a domiciliary company which was started by the Barlow family and family friend Alyson Gerrard. Amanda Barlow and Alyson worked for Cheshire Council as domiciliary care workers when the council decided to stop providing care services within rural communities. They decided along with Amanda’s son Mark to provide the much needed service to their community and surrounding areas.
Tattenhall Local Care has been in business for 6 years and is a thriving business. All staff go above and beyond the call of duty, with nothing being too much trouble for their customers which has ensured a feeling of local community and partnership. As a company Tattenhall Local Care access workforce development fund from Skills for Care with the help of DHA. Mark uses this for resources to develop staff knowledge.
Mark, Amanda, Alyson and staff have all completed qualifications with DHA. Samantha Barlow was nominated learner of the year 2014 after she completed Apprenticeship 2, 3 & 5. Mark is a very supportive manager who uses his own skills and knowledge to provide extra support to his staff with maths & English classes, increasing their confidence both for their Apprenticeship and in the workplace. Mark has stated ‘that an employer in a rural area, It is really important to invest in my staff which helps with staff retention and gives me confidence that my staff being a dispersed workforce are skilled and knowledgeable to work alone’.
Learner Of The Year 2015
We would like to congratulate our Leaner of the Year 2015 – Michelle Turner from Looking Forward Activities
Michelle owns Looking Forward Activities, a company providing support and activity groups to young adults with a learning disability. Michelle has completed the Higher Apprenticeship in Care, Leadership & Management. After discussion about a research unit, Michelle was challenged to consider topics that would facilitate change in current practice, and lead to improvement in service delivery.
Michelle highlighted the lack of employment opportunities for young adults with a learning disability and so the challenge began! Her aim was to develop an opportunity which would meet the above criteria and support, educate and safeguard the young adults at the same time. The activity group meets daily in a community hall and Michelle considered the prospect of opening up a cafe there once a week where the young adults would learn new skills around communicating with the public, food health and safety and basic numeracy and writing skills. With the support of her staff, Michelle soon started the cafe, which proved to be a great success. Michelle has shown great commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable adults and including them in society. She is an inspiration to the sector!
However, Michelle has not stopped there and is currently facilitating the development of an allotment where the young adults can learn to grow fruit and vegetables to be sold to the public.
“My assessor was approachable, friendly and knowledgeable, and gave me the confidence to take on this challenge.”
Michelle states that she had “great tuition and support” whilst being on programme and learnt so much that she is now encouraging staff members to take up the opportunity of completing an apprenticeship with DHA!