This month, we sat down with Jill, our Senior Operations Manager here at Surrey Choices. In September, Jill celebrated 40 years of working in social care!
When did you start working in Adult Social Care?
After leaving school, I attended a pre-nursing course at Guildford College and had a placement at the age of 17 at Lockwood Activity Centre – I loved every minute of the opportunity I was given. After leaving college at 18 years old, I started my nursing training at St Ebbas in Epsom and hated the thought of people being kept in large institutions, so I left very quickly and went to work with children who had profound multiple and physical disabilities in a residential home, before starting my career in Adult Social Care (ASC) at Lockwood Activity Centre on 15 October 1979.
What was your first role at Lockwood Activity Centre?
My first role was as a ‘Practical Assistant’ which is what we call today ‘Assistant Activity Facilitators’. I was then promoted to a Day Service Officer (Activity Facilitator) followed by a Designated Safeguarding Officer level 2 (Senior Activity Facilitator). I was then sponsored by Surrey County Council to undertake my Social Work Qualification. One of the placements was at The Larches, which was in those days, a service for people with mental health. So whenever I visit today, it always brings back such special memories. By undertaking a variety of roles within ASC I feel that I have a real empathy with staff across Surrey Choices who work day to day with people who use our services and the tasks that they carry out on a daily basis.
After completing my Social Work training I returned to Lockwood before being approached to join the Area Training Team, where I was responsible for Area Induction Training Programmes and practice supervisor for staff on their Social Work training, amongst other responsibilities. As we know ASC goes through various cycles of ways of working and the area training teams were dispersed so I had the opportunity to return to day services where my passion has always been. I became the Assistant Team Manager at The Harbour Activity Centre before moving to Manage Lockwood Activity Centre. Soon after I had to reapply for my role but to incorporate managing The Harbour as well. Luckily I was successful and went on to manage further services and developed my own career within ASC.
Can you tell us a favourite memory, or time which has resonated with you since working in Adult Social Care?
I have so many favourite memories that it is hard to choose however I have been on several holidays with people who attend our services and this gave me the opportunity to have a real understanding of what our parents and carers go through 24/7 on a daily basis.
One special memory was when I met the Queen Mother with a group of people!
Another special memory was when one of my managers saying to me that she had observed my performance in a large professionals meeting and she was so impressed that she wanted to aspire to be like me.
What do you think has been the best development for Surrey Choices?
I think that the best development for Surrey Choices is our training programme for staff and the programme of change that is currently taking place.
Where do you see Surrey Choices in five years time?
Providing a variety of well led services that provide people with the opportunities to lead their lives as valued citizens in their own local communities.
What is one of your biggest achievements since working at Surrey Choices?
One of my biggest achievements is to employ individuals who have developed their career pathways within the organisation to become managers of services – they know who they are!
On a personal level, I jumped out of a plane from a static line!
How do you keep motivated each day?
Knowing that I can make a difference to the lives of people who use our services as well as their Parents and Carers. I have always maintained my passion and dedication to improve the lives of people we support.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Apart from seeing people who use our services develop new skills and having fulfilled days, I get great satisfaction from seeing staff develop their skills and career pathways within the organisation. I love spending time with staff reflecting on their practices and listening to their ideas for change.
What significant developments have you seen in social care?
I think the Care Act 2014 has been one legislation that has made a huge difference to people we work with, as it sets out in one place local authorities duties to assessing people’s needs and their eligibility for publicly funded care and support needs, as it focuses on the person’s needs.
Check back in next month for our next colleague spotlight!