Social care is for young people too

Some people might think that the care sector is just for middle aged people. Not so.

Look at the progress of Natasha Green who at 19 years old has become AFG’s youngest team leader – with the support of great colleagues and training. She now leads a team at a Macclesfield supporting living service for adults with learning disabilities.

Natasha said: “It’s a family thing. I grew up with family members who were carers and as a child I used to go to work with my mum who is a team leader for another care provider. Although I did briefly work in retail selling phones and laptops, I soon realised that caring for people with mental health issues and learning disabilities was the right career for me. The attraction is the people you support and the relationships you build with them and their families.”

In her 18 months with AFG, Natasha has proved flexible – working in every AFG service in the Macclesfield area, except her present one, before taking up her new role. Although still young, Natasha has significant experience under her belt – even meeting a local MP in 2019 as part of an AFG delegation, with the CEO, to discuss health and social care issues.

After success at interview to become a team leader, Natasha had to do some mandatory online training. AFG offers a range of increasingly online courses for its staff tailored to fit into their busy roles.

“The training was pretty intense. I had just three weeks to take 14 online modules including fire safety, coaching, safety and medication before my induction. And I did it all while I was supporting people and doing sleep-ins. Then I had a full interview, including a presentation on embedding AFG’s code of conduct in a staff team and questions about what I would do in certain situations. I was pleased that after my successful interview, the interviewers thought I had lots of knowledge.”

Natasha now has responsibility for Barry, who has learning disabilities, and Jim (not his real name) with dementia who was one of AFG’s first ever supported people who moved into his present accommodation in 1992.

Since Natasha started in her new service it has been full on: “I’ve had my induction, met the previous team leader and lots of other staff and I have a very long to do list which I’m working through. After two weeks in the role I am beginning to get up to speed with things. The local staff have been great and support worker Hayley Mayers, who has so much experience, has been very helpful generally and specifically in updating care plans. I’ve also had continued support from all the Macclesfield team leaders, throughout the transition, from Support Worker to team leader.

“I specifically owe a lot to Team Leader Paul Hibbert who has mentored me through finance and medication audits, work shadowing and developing person-centered plans. I probably wouldn’t be in this role but for him. I’ve had excellent support from everybody. It’s important to me that I know there are people there if I do need help. I now need to get some significant experience in this role then assess where to go next. This is a great opportunity for me.”

“I’ve previously supported someone’s end of life care which is challenging but also rewarding. I even saved someone’s life when they had a seizure and stopped breathing. I know I can feel good about what I do and what I have achieved. For example, when I accompany someone we support on a trip out, I can sleep well at night knowing I’ve made a real difference to their lives. I feel good about that. Seeing them happy makes me happy. I just didn’t get that same feeling from retail.”

Team Leader Lynne Johnson said: “Natasha did very well in her interview and surprised both me and my colleague with her knowledge. Natasha has been on top of her tasks, competent in leading her team and has ensured the people we support have consistent and safe staffing levels to achieve their outcomes.

“Natasha is a great example of how staff can progress within AFG. Age should not be a barrier for people who wish to progress within the company and, given the right support and mentoring, other support workers could also become team leaders.”

Natasha is pictured (right) in the service’s sensory room with colleague Hayley Mayers and Jim.