Celebrating Success

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.

Lisa Jacob

Learner of the Year 2018/19: Dimple Singh

Dimple Singh certpic

Small Employer of the Year 2018/19: Bluebird Care, Bury

Bluebird Bury certpic

Large Employer of the Year 2018/19: David Lewis

David Lewis certpic



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”.
Melissa Chritchley.


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

Learner of the year

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.

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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

Large Employer of the year

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

SME Employer of the year

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!

Pauline Kelly

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!

Michelle Turner