It’s been a challenging start to 2021 for everybody.
With the restrictions, and the country going into Lockdown it’s been difficult time for all.
But we are able to share some positive news, our staff have been booking and attending their first Covid19 vaccination. For our services, and as care providers we are delighted to be able to take this positive step forward to a brighter future for everyone.
We are truly grateful to the wonderful NHS staff looking after us during this time, and once again we would like to thank our own staff for their dedication and support during this difficult time.
As 2020 draws to a close, let’s take a few moments to look back. We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank our staff for their compassion, dedication and hard work throughout this challenging year, as well as our community and local businesses who have also gone above and beyond to help us along the way to be stronger together. Here’s to a fantastic 2021!
A brother’s career journey from Support Worker to Management. Sam and Harry Owen started their social care journeys as support workers. They both followed a structured career pathway to reach their current management roles. Sam was first to join M & D Care followed by younger brother Harry.
Sam Owen – Head of Service
“I started with M & D Care ten years ago, during its first year of inception as a support worker. I worked in the service called The Elms; A residential home that offers long-stay patients from a ward setting the ability to be integrated back into the community after years of institutionalisation. After a brief time away working in the NHS, I was pleased to be given the opportunity to come back as the Registered Manager for the home where my career in care first began. I have now progressed further and I am Head of Service, overseeing several services across West Wales.
Whilst working for M&D, I’ve been given the chance to expand my knowledge and experience; obtained the relevant qualifications and training to pursue career opportunities, and learned invaluable lessons from inspiring mentors and colleagues. I’ve been privileged to witness, and be part of some of the exciting developments that M&D have achieved over the years; the start of our Domiciliary care service in (what was then named) the floating support team as a Senior Support Worker, providing outreach care to individuals in the community. I was pleased to be involved in piloting Positive Behaviour Support within the organisation, a now well established and integral part of how we operate our service as a PBS coordinator. M&D allowed me the opportunity to achieve my QCF 5 diploma in leadership in health and social care, and since been fortunate to work in most locations within the company as a manager. I will also be working towards becoming an accredited PBM trainer in the New Year.
I’m proud of what M & D Care has achieved over the last ten years and very thankful for the opportunities they’ve given me, and the positive impact their services has had on the people we support”.
Harry Owen – Operations Projects Manager
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with M&D Care for the majority of my adult life, starting as a support worker in 2011 and then I progressed quickly to the role of Senior Support Worker, followed by Deputy Manager, Registered Manager and Head of Service. I have been fortunate enough to witness the tremendous growth of the company, whilst simultaneously achieving my own career goals. Without the belief and encouragement from the directors, I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.
As a manager I believe it is vital for the people we support to be active and engaging. We often arrange weekly group outings, offering activities that the individual wouldn’t necessarily try otherwise, which I believe builds confidence and broadens horizons. I am motivated by witnessing the people we support achieving personal milestones and knowing that I played a part”.
It’s defiantly all about family at M and D Care with also siblings Isabel and Tom working for the company. Isabel works as a Senior Support Worker and Tom who is the newest member of the Owen’s family to join the company, working as an Operations Communication Officer.
Back in January, M&D Care were awarded as ‘Overall Winner’ in the West Wales Business Awards, as well as receiving the award for Learning and Development.
Colleagues attended the black tie event at the Stradey Park Hotel and Spa to accept the awards on behalf of the organisation. Little did they know that in a matter of weeks the idea of dressing up for a prestigious dinner and ceremony would seem a thing of the past and our priorities would be ensuring the people we support and our staff were supported and as safe as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This morning, the directors office is a hub of activity with Michelle Martin, our clinical director busy filling up bottles with hand sanitiser so that all our domiciliary care staff out supporting people in their homes in the community can ensure they have sanitised their hands after following the correct hand washing procedure. And Michael Bevan, the Responsible Individual for the organisation has been working closely this morning with the Heads of Service, our PBS team and Managers to ensure that the distress and disruption to routine affecting everyone in our services is managed as effectively and compassionately as possible. Other directors and members of our team based at the office hub in Llangennech are working at home and we are all busy learning how to communicate effectively using Skype and telephone calls rather than our usual popping in to each others office to bounce ideas off each other, plan and problem solve.
M&D Care have been paying close attention to the news ever since the Covid-19 pandemic first hit the headlines. Like everyone else in the country, we were anxious about whether it would reach the UK and Wales, and then when it would hit us. Social care providers are experienced in managing risks related to pandemic flu and our policies and procedures on infection control and business contingency are reviewed in readiness for the regular winter demands of flu. Of course, coronavirus is not the same as seasonal flu and we had to learn very quickly about what additional measures would be needed to support people and minimise risks.
When we first received guidance from the UK and Welsh governments about our responsibilities and duties, we met as a senior team to ensure we had as much information as possible to guide our decision making. CIW and Public Health Wales websites and circulars were studied and we set to work formulating an action plan – which changes day to day as the pandemic progresses. Risk assessments were undertaken to identify worse case scenarios so that we could plan ahead – just in case. Staffing skills and numbers were analysed; Care Teams, Commissioners and Families were contacted to update them on what we were doing and we wrote to every person using our services so that they could be reassured that we would continue to provide support, and how this may look a bit different but we’d still be there for them.
Our staff have been amazing. Some staff are vulnerable due to pre-existing health conditions; others have had symptoms like a cough or raised temperature so have needed to self-isolate. Many staff have children who will need to be at home whilst the schools are closed. Every staff member has received a gift card as a ‘Thank You’ from M&D Care. Whilst M&D Care are able to reassure staff that jobs are as safe as possible, flexible working is available to all parents and options other than SSP are available for time off due to Covid-19, many individuals and families will still be facing financial difficulties. This is why we gave every staff member a £40 shopping voucher to use as they wish. We have been humbled by the commitment of our staff and appreciate their loyalty to the people we support. Social Care workers are frequently undervalued by society and this pandemic is proving just how wrong that attitude is. We always knew this and hopefully more people will recognise the valuable role social care workers play. Well done and thank you to all of you!
Although many things have changed, we’ve ensured that lots of things have stayed the same. The fantastic weather was a bonus last weekend and many of our services held Easter events and celebrations in their homes and gardens. Everyone at The Elms received an Easter egg and enjoyed games in the garden followed by a lovely lunch, whilst at Croft House they held an Easter bonnet parade and decorated the windows with artwork.
We are proud of the encouragement our staff are receiving from the people we support. Reminders about hand washing, respecting social distancing and joining in with the weekly clapping for NHS and care workers every Thursday evening. There is a genuine sense of us all being in this together and the wonderful people we support are making our jobs so much easier by their understanding attitudes and acceptance of how we need to work differently.
Of course, change can be very distressing too. Many people rely on structure and routine to get through the day and make sense of the world. Suddenly finding that you cannot go to familiar places or have a walk whenever you want to de-stress and get exercise is difficult for anyone to cope with. If you have a mental illness, brain injury, learning disability or autism then it can be even harder. M&D Care has a team of PBS practitioners that have been supporting managers and staff teams to find innovative ways of creating new routines or adapting existing routines to be home based. We have seen a pop-up barbers shop in one residential service where one of the people we support got to have their regular hair cut, with all the trimmings – pardon the pun!!!
Ynystawe Lodge opened earlier this year. It is a service that has been designed to provide fully customisable accommodation that meets the sensory needs of people who have autism and other complex needs, and can cope with the rigours of distressed and challenging behaviour. The people that we support there are some of the most vulnerable members of our society who frequently experience difficulties with communication and understanding. Max Cusack, one of our PBS practitioners described this morning how one of the people being supported in Ynystawe Lodge finds hand washing difficult because of their sensory processing needs. The staff team have found ways of incorporating water play into this person’s day so that they can frequently wash their hands without feeling distressed by it.
Not being able to get out and about hasn’t stopped our activities. If anything, it has given us the opportunity to look at how we can make every day more meaningful for people using M&D Care’s services. One gentleman we support needs to visit the shops every day – whilst this activity may seem like a chore or run of the mill to many of us, to him it is essential for his wellbeing. We have created a shop within the residential service so that he can still have the experience of visiting a shop, paying for goods and enjoying the social interaction with the shopkeeper. In fact, this shop has enabled him to develop his money handling skills in an environment that is safer than a shop and doesn’t have impatient customers behind him in the queue!
It’s not just the staff and people we support that are in it together. We have felt a real sense of community spirit with our neighbours and local businesses too.
Castell Howells have ensured we have everything we need to feed the people in our residential services and they offer a delivery service to people in the community too so that they don’t need to visit shops. We cannot thank them enough for this. The news is full of stories of shortages of PPE and this is a very real worry for our staff, the people we are supporting and their families. We have adequate supplies at the moment and in fact we have been able to donate some PPE to other care providers and the local NHS district nurses. It’s essential that we all work together and help each other out where we can.
M&D Care has several residential and supported living services and a team of domiciliary care staff. We have managed our rotas so that staff are working across as few services as possible to minimise the risk of unknowingly spreading infection. We have been able to offer help to other providers and the local authorities and health boards in South West Wales – at the moment our staff numbers are manageable. This is partly through some people we support being able to self-isolate with families or reduce face to face visits temporarily. We are continuing to recruit new team members and last week we held inductions for new starters – including our newest team members who had sadly been made redundant from a local employer, Debenhams.
We have many staff who did not join us from a care background. Initially they were concerned that care may not be the job for them, but some of our most successful employees have worked in a diverse range of industries including the armed forces, hairdressing, retail and hospitality trades. All of these jobs involve the type of skills good care workers have: negotiating, being friendly, problem solving, and staying calm in busy environments. If you are interested in joining us, please take a look at our recruitment pages on our website and Facebook.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our first blog post and hearing about what we’ve been up to. M&D Care welcomes feedback and invites you to check us out on Facebook or online – give us a “like” if you wish.
We’ll continue working together as staff; with the people we support and their families and care teams; and with our local communities to get through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thank you to all our supporters and we wish you well.
We are very proud of Mike Bevan, our Director of Operations, who will take on the challenge of completing the Barcelona, London and the Edinburgh Marathons 2020 all in 10 weeks – in aid of learning disabilities charity Mencap.
Mike is training hard for more than 110 competitive miles, starting in February 2020, and he is running 100 training miles per month. He even pushed on with his training programme in the 40-degree centigrade heat and humidity of the Middle East, during a recent break there.
He said: “Mencap is the London Marathon charity of the year so I was pleased to be chosen to support the charity with my run, since learning disabilities is a cause that, of course, means a lot to me. I hope that by running the Barcelona and the Edinburgh marathons too, within 10 weeks of each other, it will raise more awareness for the wonderful cause– and more money for this excellent cause.”
Mike has taken on the London Marathon in the past, running for mental health charity MIND, and raising around £2000. He is hoping to exceed this tally this time.
Mike has worked with people with learning disabilities for around 13 years, having come from a career in construction. He explains: “I was one of those young people who didn’t know what to do after my A Levels. My dad ran a construction firm, so I followed him into that industry and worked in construction for a few years. But my mind always went back to a short period of time I worked in a hydrotherapy unit, helping children with autism. I loved the experience, so one day I just decided to make a career change.
“Many people around me thought I was making the wrong decision. There have been stressful times, and the industry requires dedication, but there are so many opportunities within adult care, there is so much quality training and there are valuable career progression opportunities. It was, in fact, the best thing I ever did.”