Home Learning Disabilities & Autism Creating and embracing equal opportunities in care

Creating and embracing equal opportunities in care

by Kirsty Kirsty

Graeme Lee, CEO of Springfield Healthcare

I think we can all agree, to work in the care sector you really need to care. Springfield Healthcare was founded over 50 years ago by my parents, and you could say my career in care began then, growing up in a caring environment. Since then, I have learnt so much about both the needs of residents and the care home staff who go above and beyond to provide both compassionate and high-quality care to older people.

I have always been a big believer in equality and accessibility in the workplace. I wanted this belief to be mirrored, not only by the care given to residents in the several homes within the Springfield Healthcare group, but also via our recruitment process.

It’s safe to say, over the last few years the care sector has faced its fair share of challenges, some which we are all still battling together, such as recruitment. But, what has emerged from times of crisis, is the resilience and defiance of care staff, who despite tough times have shown their commitment to care.

We recently joined forces with Assistive, a not-for-profit social enterprise which has developed an innovative piece of technology which helps young people living with learning disabilities and autism to secure part and full-time paid employment.

According to statistics from NHS Digital from a report published in 2021, only 5.1 per cent of young adults with learning disabilities known to their local authority are in paid work. The reasons for this are varied, but in many cases people with learning disabilities require more support, particularly when it comes to paid work.  

Due to a national shortage of staff and like so many care homes across the country, we were in a sticky spot trying to find the right person to work in our on-site Bistro at our 95-bed care home in Seacroft in Leeds. Pre-Covid the Bistro at Seacroft Grange was a hub for residents and their relatives to socialise over a cup of barista style coffee. As a result of a shortage of hospitality staff we were unable to re-open the Bistro.

However, with the help from Nigel Cork, the CEO of Assistive, his team and an innovative piece of technology, we were introduced to 22-year-old Megna who was looking for a role in hospitality. Megna has autism and was keen to find full-time employment that was both fulfilling and manageable with her additional needs.  

Assistive has designed and created a piece of Assistive Technology which Megna has full use of when she is working in the Bistro. Megna uses the Assistive tech at work to help her with managing and fulfilling tasks by giving clear, controlled and direct instructions via a smart watch, or tablet. Residents place their order with the help of staff via an app and then a message is delivered straight to Megna’s watch in a manageable way. The tech gives Megna the confidence and support she needs to serve residents tea, coffee and cake independently.

Megna has been employed by us in her role for seven months working five days a week and the use of the technology has given her the ability to commit to, and fully enjoy her role within our home. The residents are also getting used to ordering their drinks through the app, with help from our care team and have really warmed to Megna who has settled into her role so well.

The ethos at Springfield Healthcare focuses on inclusivity and ensuring that the care we provide to our residents is also felt amongst staff we employ across the board.  

Our plan now is to work with Assistive to create further opportunities throughout our homes for young adults living with learning disabilities. Thanks to technological advancements like this, the future is incredibly bright for employees like Megna.

Image depicts Graeme Lee, CEO of Springfield Healthcare

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