People in social care talk about the reality of their role
Teresa McGouran is senior portage worker in Bristol Council’s education department.
Job description: Ensuring parents are provided with advice and support in the education and care of children aged one to five who are disabled or have severe long-term and complex needs.
Skills/qualifications: NVQ level 3, diploma in nursery nursing.
Salary: £23,265 – £28,179.
What’s your job like? Portage involves working in the home with parents/carers and children. As senior portage worker I also manage a small team of portage staff. Every member of the team has their own caseload. I see 12 families, eight weekly and four monthly.
When first meeting the child and parent at referral stage, I tell them about our service and how we work. I look at the child’s abilities and strengths and then plan targets.
Portage works by breaking down long term goals into small achievable tasks which are worked on during the portage session and then by the parent during the week. These are then reviewed and another activity set to carry on the progress.
My work involves liaising closely with health and social services. I attend medical reviews or conferences and make joint home visits with speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and educational psychologists.
When home visits stop and the child moves into a nursery or school, visiting, informing and sharing ideas and good practice with the class teacher and learning support assistant is crucial.
I am very involved in the statementing of special educational needs process and helping parents find the right place for their child to move on to. Making sure all the appropriate people are involved in decisions is essential.
I attend a monthly pre-school special educational needs/disability resource panel that offers alternative day care or childminding to families of children in need. This gives me an opportunity to meet other professionals and highlights the children who may be referred to our service.