Somerset County Council awards fantastic work from the Learning Disability Service team

Staff from Somerset County Council’s Learning Disability Service who have continuously gone that extra mile were rewarded in a special ceremony last week.

David Dick, Somerset County Council’s Learning Disabilities Operations Director presented 14 awards to staff who have continuously gone above and beyond their daily job roles, and dedicated their time and energy to more vulnerable members of the community.

The awards were presented at Stoke St Gregory village hall, to a total of 25 people who have helped make the Learning Disability Provider an exceptional service for its users in Somerset.

Nominations came from Learning Disability Provider staff members, along with service users and their carers.

Cllr William Wallace, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Somerset County Council said: “The number of nominations and subsequent awards presented this year goes to show the hard work and dedication of staff from within the Learning Disabilities service.

“Attendees to these awards heard and saw video stories showcasing the remarkable things the award winners do on a daily basis and the difference they make to the lives of those in their care.

“Whether they are individuals or entire teams it is clear to see the pride, enjoyment and job satisfaction they get from working with people with learning disabilities, and Somerset County Council is proud to support them in continuing this fantastic work.”

The recipients of the Learning Disability Service Provider awards were:

(Winner of the Individual Excellence Award – nominated by a service user)

Gail Davies – from Future4 Chard: “I think Gail should have this award because she is nice and kind,” said a service user. “She is always helpful and makes people smile. She is a person you can look up to and you can talk to her.  She is always ready to listen to you if you are sad or upset, but she will make you happy again.  She makes everyone laugh.  She makes me happy as well, and changed my life around.  I think she is the best person I ever met.”

(Winner of the Individual Excellence Awards – nominated by a carer)

Jon Shirley – from Future4 Sedgemoor: “Jon has helped my son become much more responsible and mature with the tasks he now undertakes,” said a carer. “This is no mean feat in working with a person with both learning disabilities and autism. He keeps us and others involved and in the communication loop about my son. He has supported my son in coming to terms with his father being diagnosed and treated for serious illness.  He has greatly helped all the family with a difficult situation. His cheerful and upbeat approach strongly influences the positive ambience that you feel in the places where he works.”

(Winner of the Individual Excellence Awards – nominated by a colleague)

Leanne Wilson – from Orchardleigh (Street):
“The service user Leanne supported would never attend meetings and would refuse to answer any questions asked,” said Leanne’s colleague. “As the customer loves to play Who wants to be a millionaire she put together some questions with multiple choice answers.  He decided he wanted to play the game at a pub.  They chose a quiet table.  He had great fun answering the questions, and lots of information came out about his likes and dislikes.  The same format was used for his medication review. The LD nurse was so impressed she emailed senior managers recommending that she be recognised.  The nurse said a person who previously would not even speak to her, now looks forward to his meetings. The nurse will contact to discuss what information she needs from the meeting.  Leanne will then write the question and multiple choice answers around this.  When the meeting is taking place you can hear the laughter coming from his room, such a difference from his previous reaction of “Go away, I’m not talking to you.”

(Winner of the Individual Excellence Awards – nominated by a colleague)

Bev Stevens and Sue Richards – from Vesuvio (Westonzoyland):
“They have put together communication passports for service users,” said their colleague. “They have used communication tools to gain access to the community, inviting neighbours, family and friends to be involved. Last year they put a tree of inspirations together, and this year they have goal posts for the goals people want.”

(Winners of the Individual Excellence Award – Highly Commended)

Martin Krajniewski – from Future4 Frome: Nominated by a service user who wrote a book about his early life experiences. He described services that were institutional and dehumanising. Within his nomination he wrote: “This man (Martin) deserves recognition because he looks after all the people all of the time at the centre.”
April Hudson – from Future4 St James: Nominated by a service user who wrote: “She is helping me with new skills (cooking) which is helping me to be more independent.  We are now more part of the community as we shop each day we have a cookery session.  She helps us to make healthy choices.  She has introduced us to lots of different foods and flavours.”

(Winners of the Team Excellence Awards)

Future4 Frome: Nominated by service users: “Because they help people. They are good. They are happy.” “Because they help me do sessions I like.” “Staff work well as a team, and support all trainees.” “Because they are very good and deserve it.”

Ashbury (Taunton): Nominated by a carer: “My brother has been a resident for approximately 30 years. He now needs 24 hour support with all his care. Staff have always strived not only to respond to all the residents individual care needs, but also to maximise their quality of life. They have also actively sought and implemented ideas/activities that my brother would enjoy. Over the last 5 months my brother has had several hospital admissions. During each admission staff have provided 24 hour support, meaning that his specific care needs have been met, there has always been a familiar face for him, and an advocate. Staff have been very supportive to me during these admissions when difficult decisions have to be made. Now my brother is back home, staff continue to work strenuously to meet his complex needs, but also to enhance his quality of life. It is difficult to quantify how much it means to me to know that my brother is cared for by such a dedicated team.”

Grassendale (Taunton): Nominated by Service Manager: “M was an incredibly independent person who understood his rights and always made it very clear if he did not feel these were being respected.  His first few months at Grassendale were difficult, but the team demonstrated a commitment to getting his support right.  They set aside time for M to discuss his concerns with a member of staff M had identified as someone he felt comfortable talking to.  They drew up agreements as to how things could move forward.  With time, M settled in more and more.  Every time I visited he had something positive he wanted to tell me.  He rekindled his love of painting and drawing and told me that he has only started again because he felt so happy.  The biggest achievement came in M securing a voluntary work placement, greeting service users and taking the money – something he was particularly interested in!  This clearly gave him a huge sense of pride.  The opportunity was found and supported by the staff team, with a view that this would be something he could undertake independently in the longer term. Sadly M died before this came to fruition.  His death was sudden and unexpected.  This was an incredibly difficult time and I was hugely impressed by the support and comfort the team provided for individual staff. It is hard to put into words the impact the team had on M’s life, but it is safe to say that in all the years I have known him, he was at his happiest before he died.”

(Winners of the Team Excellence Awards – Highly Commended)

Geen House (Bridgwater) – A supported living service in Bridgwater for adults with learning disabilities.

The Old Police House (Frome) – A residential care home in Frome for adults with learning disabilities.

(Winner of the Individual Extra Mile Award: nominated by a service user)

Nicky Field – from Orchardleigh (Street): Her nomination read: “Even though she is not interested in ice hockey, she is prepared to give up her own time to take me to Cardiff to watch a game.  This is one of the things on my wish list, and she has told me she will help me do them.”

(Winner of the Individual Extra Mile Award: nominated by a colleague)

Christine Sunderland – from The Old Police House (Frome): Her nomination read: “She has worked at the Old Police House since it opened in 1990. She is currently part time and well past retirement age, with mobility issues following a knee operation. She regularly takes on extra hours so that individuals can access activities, or go on days out.  She supports people away on holiday despite her mobility problems. Because she does not drive she has to rely on lifts to work or on the intermittent bus service, yet she is never late, and has only had two days off in the past 5 years. Her bus service will be stopping soon, but she is already looking at ways to get to work so that she does not let the service or the individuals down.”

(Winner of the Team Extra Mile Award)

Russet (Yeovil): Their nomination read: “Each customer had their own individualised transition plan, and staff ensured those transition plans were carried through.  They made sure that current activities and links with Yeovil were not broken and continue.  Staff arranged holidays or trips out so that the actual move day was not stressful for customers.  They travel every day in order to provide the consistency that each of our customers require.  They communicated about the move in ways that customers could understand.  Staff set about making sure bedrooms were set out in a similar way to help customers feel at home and less confused.  One person has been supported to use and area which has its own lounge and bedroom.  This has made a huge difference to his life.  Staffs have identified which local facilities and activities which would suit each customer, and each customer has a day where they go and enjoy their chosen activities. All the customers have settled in really well.

I feel that the dedication and hard work of the whole team has made the moving experience an exciting and positive one for customers.”

(Winner of the New Starter Award)

Jennifer Myzylowskyj – from Geen House (Bridgwater). Her nomination read:She joined Geen House in March 2015, having had very minimal experience of working with adults with learning disabilities.  She came to the management team to gain some specific understanding around our new Support for Living plans.  While supporting a tenant at church after hearing the banns being read out, the tenant expressed an interest in attending a wedding.  She followed this up with the tenant, by speaking to a person who helps at the church.  Working with the tenant and the church she arranged for him to be able to attend a wedding, supported him to choose his outfit for the day, and planned what he would like to do before and after the wedding ceremony.  This is just one example of how she works in a person centred way, and is an asset to the service.”

(Winner of the Business Support Award)

Jane Webber and Penny Leach – from The Seahorse Centre (Minehead). Their nomination read: “We have been lucky enough to have the support of our reception staff for over 10 years.  They work behind the scenes manning the phones and performing admin and financial tasks. They are unbelievably good at dealing with difficult and sometimes upsetting calls.  They are a welcoming first point of contact for visitors and staff.  You can ask them to do anything at short notice and they will always oblige.  They get on well with all the customers and their parents and carers and support events and fundraisers joining in dressing up for red nose day or pirate day and singing along, while still trying to answer phone calls.  They are definitely part of the team at Seahorses.”

(Winner of the Manager Award)

Rachel Derham – from Whilom and Mawbry (Chard) her nomination read: ““I am nominating her as I feel as a manager she is constantly supportive and equal to all staff.  She is always supportive and open to giving advice and guidance.  The main reason I am nominating her is because she always, ALWAYS puts the views and needs of the people we support first.  No matter what the request, she will do all she can to make it happen.  She will work shifts at the drop of a hat, and support customers to make their needs heard until there is a reasonable outcome for the customer. She always takes the time to listen and has a really ‘fun and can do attitude’.”