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Occupation is Therapy in Itself

‘Find an occupation you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ That is certainly the case for Helen Wooding, an Occupational Therapist (OT) in Wrexham Council’s Adults Social Care Department.

Inspired to pursue a career in OT after witnessing the difference effective OT support can provide, Helen is now keen to encourage others into a career in Social Care: ‘I love my job’, says Helen, ‘I truly feel lucky to be able to do what I do. After having a family, being an OT is the best thing I have done in my life. Helping people and knowing that I have made a difference is so rewarding, I want other people to experience that by working in Social Care.’

It’s for this reason that Helen has been involved in several events that provide information and advice about careers in Social Care, ‘I really enjoy talking to people about my job, it’s great to be able to answer their questions and encourage them to pursue a career that can offer so much variety’.

For Helen, studying for qualifications to gain her role wasn’t always easy. Supporting her children with their studies, whilst also being a student herself, presented new challenges, ‘I had develop strategies for managing my work and overcome self-doubt at times’, said Helen, ‘but I’ve been lucky enough to have some great mentors and I would do it all again’.

Four years after gaining her degree at Glyndwr University, which led to her first role as an OT at Wrexham Council; Helen is currently following the council’s OT Career Progression Framework. ‘The framework has helped to guide my development and given me goals to aim for and I now supervise students during their development which helps me pass on what I’ve learnt’, Helen added, ‘Managers and colleagues in the OT team have been so supportive and that makes a real difference to me. It’s all about team work’

Recently, Helen has been putting team work to use in a different way, working in partnership with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) to develop a more efficient referral process for patients receiving palliative care. Helen believes good communication made the project a success, ‘Listening to district nurses and other medical professionals allowed me to appreciate what they needed to be able to make the process work better for people we support. Working together has enabled us to spend even more time supporting people receiving palliative care’.

Helen is clearly pursuing the right career for her and working with partners in the health sector proves that. The fact that Helen sees communication and team working as key to service delivery shows how she is able to successfully make changes that support services users at this critical time. Wrexham Council’s OT team are proactive in their roles and tailor care to individual needs which makes their aim to achieve the best outcome for services users even more achievable.

Head of Adults Social Care and Statutory Director of Social Services at Wrexham Council, Andrew Figiel

Support Worker Wins Excellence Award

Jason Williams, an employee in the council’s Community Living Service (CLS) not only completed his QCF level 2 in Health and Social Care in the last year but was also nominated for an award by his Team Manager Kim Thomas and Assistant Manager Anna Feeley.

Jason, who has been working in CLS for the last 3 years, was surprised when he received a call to say that he had been shortlisted. He attended a ceremony at Cardiff City Hall in October 2013 where he was presented with the Silver Award.

The award was in recognition of his work with colleagues to develop a music group for people with learning disabilities. In his spare time Jason is a drummer in a successful local rock band. He used his love of music to help him communicate with a young man with profound learning difficulties whom he supports as part of his job with CLS.

Jason said: I really enjoy my job. It’s great to be able to share something I’m passionate about with the people I support. Using music has enabled them to express how they feel.  I had not worked in care before I came to Wrexham Council, but now, I definitely want to continue in care work.  I’ve gained a qualification since working in CLS, the team are supportive and the real benefit for me is seeing people I work with gaining confidence.

I was really surprised to be nominated for the award and shocked to have won, especially as there were so many dedicated people working in care who should also be recognised for the work they do.

Jason is obviously passionate about working in Social Care. He was nominated due the excellent feedback his managers had received from Service Users, their parents and carers. Achieving his QCF qualification confirms the skills and experience he has gained with Wrexham Council, but like so many of his colleagues, it is his commitment to supporting service users, that makes him an asset to the service.

Head of Adults Social Care and Statutory Director of Social Services at Wrexham Council, Andrew Figiel

Action Learning is set to Develop Social Care Managers

Confucius said: "I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand."

So in recognition that "doing" and reflecting on what we have done, is the most effective way to learn, managers from the Social Care sector throughout Wrexham now have access to peer support workshops to help them learn through action and reflection.

The managers, all working towards their Level 5 QCF Diplomas, are attending 'Action Learning Sets' to help them explore practice issues they have in relation to the theory they cover within their qualification.

The 'sets' are small workshops of staff, facilitated by Wrexham Councils Social Care Workforce Strategy and Development Service. They are provided for managers in both Children's and Adult's Social Care services, across from Public, Private and Voluntary organisations.

These workshops add to traditional learning through instruction and pool a wide range of experience, skills and knowledge; to further develop understanding of theories, models and legislative frameworks. Managers can then make real links between this evidence base and their practice.

The 'Action Learning Sets' enable managers to learn together, to resolve the real issues they experience in day to day practice. Working together across all Social Care organisations not only to develops the right skills; but also aims to strengthen partnership working across the sector, improving the delivery of Social Care services across the county.

Head of Adults Social Care and Statutory Director of Social Services at Wrexham Council, Andrew Figiel

New Professional Standard for Welsh Social Workers Aims to Improve Social Care Services

Newly qualified Social Workers in Wrexham can undertake a brand new qualification which aims to further improve the standard of Social Care Services in the county.

The new Graduate Certificate in Consolidation of Social Work Practice, validated by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, was designed and developed by a partnership of 12 Welsh authorities, collectively called Porth Agored. 

Launched at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth on 14 March 2013, the certificate is the first programme to meet the new consolidation requirements to be approved by the Care Council for Wales.  It forms part of its new framework of Continuing Professional Education and Learning for Social Work in Wales (CPEL) and supports the aspirations of Sustainable Social Services Wales, and the Welsh Government's forthcoming Social Services and Well Being Bill.

By working in partnership, we have designed a work-based learning framework drawing on the knowledge of experienced social care professionals from across the 12 local authorities.
Together with guidance from experienced mentors, this qualification aims to build Newly Qualified Social Workers' confidence and skills.  This will strengthen the delivery of front line services across Wrexham by further developing a confident and competent workforce that is equipped to support the needs of service users, their families and carers."

Andrew Figiel, Head of Adults Social Care and Statutory Director of Social Services for Wrexham Council

Wrexham Social Care Partnership Conference Heightens Awareness of Dignity in Dementia

Over 100 delegates attended a conference at Redwither Tower on 22nd January to learn more about the importance of dignity for people experiencing dementia.

Organised by Wrexham County Borough Council for the Wrexham Social Care Partnership, the event was opened by Professor Bob Woods, Co-Director, DSDC Wales, Bangor University. Professor Woods provided an overview of current developments, including the use of life story books, which was followed by Ms Hannah Jelley, Research Project Support Officer, DSDC Wales, Bangor University who presented on Individual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy.  The presentations concluded with a detailed overview of the opportunities for using the creative arts in dementia care by Kat Algar, PhD student, DSDC Wales, Bangor University.

Treating people with dignity is a paramount principle underpinning the way in which we arrange or provide social care services in Wrexham. It is particularly important, therefore, that people with dementia, who may be at their most vulnerable are afforded the same rights we all come to expect to be treated as individuals and in a dignified and respectful way.

Statutory Director of Wrexham Social Services, Head of Adult Social Care at Wrexham County Borough Council Andrew Figiel

Promoting Equality and Welsh Language in Social Care

A joint meeting of the Adults and Children's Workforce Development Partnership was held at Redwither Tower, Wrexham on 17th October 2012. Presentations were given by both Wrexham Council's Communications Manager Sue Wyn Jones and Equality Manager Celia Hart.

Sue explained the details of Wrexham's Welsh Language Policy to the members of the partnership, whilst Celia outlined the main principles of the new Equality Act 2010, and the Wrexham Council Equality Policy. 

Wrexham County Borough Council is currently undertaking work towards the Equality Standard and as part of this, aims to ensure that all partners are fully aware of their obligations under the Equality Act.

Partnership working is essential to ensuring that the services we provide meet the needs of the people we support.  All services, including those through independent providers, need to be delivered within equality standards. Therefore, part of our ongoing commitment to equality and the Welsh language is to ensure that all our partners are aware of Wrexham Council policies and new legislation that guides their development.

Statutory Director of Wrexham Social Services, Head of Adult Social Care at Wrexham County Borough Council Andrew Figiel