Southern Cross worker lands top caring award

A Southern Cross employee has become the second winner of the WorldSkills UK Caring Competition.

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A Southern Cross employee has become the second winner of the WorldSkills UK Caring Competition.

Hayley Gibbs (pictured above during a role play), deputy manager at Memory House, a home in Essex for people with dementia and other age-related specialist care needs, beat nine other finalists to win the competition in London on 15 July.

The Caring Competition was organised by the National Skills Academy for Social Care (NSA) and WorldSkills UK to raise the status of adult social care. It tests people’s ability to use their core skills and knowledge to deliver excellent social care in an unfamiliar setting.

Gibbs was praised for tailoring her approach to individual needs. “I talk to people, give them choices,” she said after accepting her gold medal. “To me it’s simple; they need care for a reason, not just because they can’t be bothered to do it for themselves.”

Jennifer Bernard, lead judge and programme director at the NSA, said: “All of the finalists were good, but Hayley brings a certain energy, which shows in her personality but doesn’t dominate the relationship with the person she’s supporting.”

This year’s finalists, all women, made it through regional heats in Eastbourne, Hull, Exeter and London earlier in the year. At the final, they were given 45 minutes to review a hypothetical care plan. This included 35 minutes of direct interaction with a professional actor who had been briefed to show signs of arthritis and depression.

Then the care workers had 30 minutes to implement the plan by helping the client to fulfil one of his personal goals. All of the activities took place in front of a panel of three judges.

The competition was open to anyone working in, or training for, the social care sector over the age of 16.

The awards were presented by Diane Lawson, who officially took over as chief executive of the NSA on 18 July. “It takes guts to do this; it’s such a surreal situation,” she said, adding: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate excellence in social care.”

Jennifer Bernard, programme director at the National Skills Academy for Social Care, describes this year’s contest, writes:

The Caring Competition has attracted a high standard of entrants since the start, but we had more demand this year. We had to put people on waiting lists, so the competition was tougher. And the judging is probably slightly tougher, because we have learned some lessons from last year about what to look for when assessing caring skills.

We’re testing four things. In the heats, we test their ability to work together, by asking them to work with another competitor in one of the exercises. But the whole competition tests their knowledge, their practical skills and the way they relate to other people. To be a good care worker, you have to be able to bring all of these things together.

To raise the status of social care, it has to be visible in a positive way – and that’s what the Caring Competition aims to do.

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Find out about last year’s Caring Competition

Watch the video of the regional heats

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