My graduate placement at London-based learning disability, autism and mental health provider mcch has continued to be both challenging and varied. I have now moved on from my structured induction programme, and have been fully welcomed into the management team. As part of this, I met mcch’s chief executive, Peter Thompson, and discussed the challenges facing the social care sector as a whole.
I was interested to hear his vision for the future of mcch, and he also gave me some invaluable tips for beginning a successful career. Towards the end of our meeting he asked me why I wanted to work in social care, to which I’m fairly certain I gave the rather generic response of ,‘I want to work with people’, and the even more clichéd, ‘I want to feel as though I’m making a difference’.
I then spent some time in a residential care home for adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Having previously worked at a respite centre for children with learning disabilities, I thought I had some idea about what residential care would involve, but I think I had underestimated how challenging it would be.
The staff working there were compassionate and knowledgeable, but thought more could be done to improve working practices with health. They had been waiting for some time for an occupational therapist to come out and assess the service for a new bath, and worried about the time it had taken for a dementia assessment to be done on a person with Down’s syndrome.
‘Making a value judgement on someone’s life’
On my last day there, one of the residents was admitted to hospital, and we received a phone call asking whether or not the individual involved should be resuscitated, if necessary. I’d done the Social Care Institute for Excellence online course on the Mental Capacity Act, but the reality of making a value judgement on someone’s life was one which I found difficult to contemplate.
I discovered that mcch has a variety of comprehensive policies in place with regards to end-of-life planning, and on looking at them, it was obvious how important it is to celebrate the lives and achievements of the most vulnerable in society, regardless of their ability.
So, to come full circle, this experience made me realise that I do want a job where I work with people, and I do want a job which allows me to feel as though I’m making a difference, but more than that, I want a job which will allow me to celebrate life.
This month I also assisted with the opening of a cafe in Bexley Village Library, run by mcch, and staffed by people with learning disabilities. Apart from building furniture, and utterly failing to work out how to set up the till, something which I am embarrassed to admit, I still don’t really understand, I was struck by how empowering it was to see people being given the opportunity to try something new, and integrate into the community. It was pretty life affirming to be told by the person I was working with on Saturday, ‘I’m doing a good job, aren’t I? I’m telling you what to do.’.
Natalie Crisp is a trainee on this year’s National Skills Academy for Social Care graduate training scheme, for which she has been placed at the learning disability, autism and mental health provider, mcch.
A graduate’s eye view of social care management