Health & Social Care. From Academy to Apprenticeship.

Meet Emma, our ApprenticeshipNI Health & Social Care student.

There are many routes to begin an apprenticeship and for those who have little to no experience in the sector, gaining an introduction via one of the People 1st Health & Social Care week long academies can be a great way to start this rewarding career.

Emma from Lisburn did exactly that. After finishing school 2 years ago, Emma originally wanted to study to be a nurse but her grades fell short initially to get into a university nursing course… so after hitting a bit of a stumbling block and unsure whether to repeat her exams or what to do next, she met and talked things over with one of the People 1st team at our Lisburn office, who then told her about the option of attending the one week long Health and Social Care Academy to gain an introduction into the care sector, and help her get a job too. It allowed her to try out the sector and see if she enjoyed the work, which she did, and after that she got employment with Advanced Community Care in a domiciliary care role and through her employer was able to progress onto an Apprenticeship with People 1st.

What is a Domiciliary Care Worker or a Home Care Worker? It’s a role where you visit local people in their own homes, to assist them with their care needs, and support them to live an independent life… so lets hear more about Emmas journey from Academy to Apprenticeship with People 1st.

Emma attended the one-week Academy with People 1st, which really helped prepare her for the role with sector specific training, case studies and scenarios and really fantastic support for interviewing with prospective employers.  She also felt that it would be ideal to do, before deciding if she wanted to continue on into a full nursing role.

Emma really felt like People 1st cared and singled out Ruth from the Academies team for great praise in supporting her into employment ‘ Ruth was amazing, she really took the time to go through things with me and help me with anything I needed for my job. I really felt like she really genuinely cared and wanted me to progress and learn and do well at the new job and this was a great support to me especially in those early days when everything is new and you feel a bit overwhelmed, Ruth really helped me so much.”

At the end of the week, through accessing the People 1st network of employers, Emma was able to interview with Advanced Community Care in Lisburn, who provide care in the home to local residents around the greater Lisburn area which was ideal for Emma, as she lives locally. Emma was delighted to hear that she got the job and started employment almost 12 months ago as a domiciliary carer, joining a team of over 70 carers who help people in the Lisburn area to keep their independence and live at home while getting visits from team members like Emma to help with their daily needs. This role pays an attractive hourly rate of £11.20 per hour, which is a fantastic level of earnings for Emma, at 20 years old. 

So lets hear from Emma about what sort of thing she does day to day in her role… 

“The role is really focused around each individual and the level of care that they need so it can vary and be anything from personal care to administering medication, preparing meals to helping with household tasks, day to day errands and companionship… I’ve become a friend to a lot of those who I care for and their smiles when I come through the door is definitely one of the best things about the job” 

Before starting with the home visits, Emma had intensive online training at home due to the pandemic, before progressing to observational visits with other members of the Advanced Community Care team before she was deemed ready to carry out these visits herself. Now Emma is employed in a mix of different shifts where each shifts lasts around 3 to 4 hours at a time and can be either morning, lunch, teatime or bedtime based. Emma visits each of the homes on her daily list and carries out her duties before moving onto the next home. 

As Emma explains

‘ The People 1st Academy really helped give me a strong idea of what we would be doing in the job, it helped me to feel comfortable with my role in ‘care in the community’ otherwise I think I would have being going in blind and would have given up too easily. It was a different job for me as being 19, I had only worked in retail before, and I really wasn’t used to the responsibility I felt going into peoples homes and helping them with all these different things that the academy had prepared me. I have to admit that after my first morning shift, I had a bit of a wobble when I arrived back home, but after chatting it over with my mum, who told me to have the confidence to know how much I was helping people… I was able to relax a bit more and started to really enjoy my work. I love it now and I feel really good knowing I’m helping people so much, and Im so glad I didn’t give up that first day as I would have really regretted it ’ 

Many families are now chosing domiciliary care at home for their loved ones because it is really focused on the individual and their needs, providing a level of comfort and familiarity by being at home receiving a substantial level of support without impacting on your their independence. With one-to-one visits daily, a personalised care plan and a friendly local face, the support from Advanced Community Care and their carers like Emma, is completely built around the local community! 

Emma with her manager Denise, in Advanced Community Care in Lisburn

The other fantastic thing is Emma is also able to do her NVQ level 2 qualification through People 1st, while working in this role visiting those she cares for, and this helps her gain valuable theoretical knowledge coupled with the practical knowledge learnt on the job. She liaises regularly with the People 1st team regarding her progress and course paperwork and is almost ready to complete her qualification after just 9 months as an apprentice in Health and Social care. 

‘ Ruth explained to me that I could do my level 2 apprenticeship in Health and Social Care while working with ACC, which I felt was a great option as it allowed me to get an excellent qualification under my belt while gaining 1 full year of working in the community. This was all fully funded I didn’t have to pay anything, and coming out of school without any money of my own to afford to pay for a course, I was delighted to get paid while also getting this qualification. I felt it was a really good move as in a competitive job market or if I went to move onto nursing , this could be the one thing that really set me apart from other candidates, as I now have this fantastic year of experience under my belt…An apprenticeship like this is a great way to lay the foundation of what you want to do in life, you get so much training and access to resources and mentoring from the team at People 1st that is so helpful as you go along. It is a really good guide for when you are starting a new job or career path like I was, as combined with the Academy it meant I had prior knowledge and wasn’t approaching it totally blind to what I would be doing. This was invaluable at helping me to settle into the job and I would recommend anyone to do the Academy as it is such an important week for your confidence too as well as helping you to meet employers like I did. I also now know so much more about the sector and how I can progress within it to my Level 3 qualification, and maybe progress on after that even further to be maybe a district nurse’

Emma signing off some of her apprenticeship paperwork with Denise

And as Denise Bryans, pictured here with Emma, Registered Manager for Advanced Community Care says ‘Emma is an exceptional employee, she takes part in all our regular in house e-learning and knows so much about policies and procedures through her training with People 1st too. Apprentices like Emma are much more knowledgeable than the average person who comes to work for us, as they have gained so much information through their learnings with People 1st, then we teach them more ‘on the job’ so to speak as they are working away! Emma is not only a great employee for us, but she is also a really lovely girl and our service users love to see her coming through their doors each day. We wish everyone coming to us was as well trained and competent as she is, as its a joy to work alongside her ”

She might well choose to progress on to do a level 3 qualification in the same area or may well try to get into nursing and we know she will be fabulous at whatever she chooses to do next… but for now, Emma has passed her probationary period, is a full time employee of Advanced Community Care , earning a great salary and is really happy and content helping visit the local Lisburn residents, supporting their with day to day needs and brightening their day and that brings a smile to everyones face!

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