My journey with Brookdale Care started in May 2007. To put it into context let me just say that it was the days when Tony Blair was still the Prime Minister and before Apple released the first iPhone! I must say that at that time I was not planning a career in healthcare and thought I was only going to do it temporarily.
I started as a Healthcare Assistant on a Learning Disability unit in Milton Park. At the beginning I only had a very basic awareness of Learning Disabilities, Autism or Mental Health that I got during my teacher training in Poland. However, before I set foot on the ward Brookdale put me through their induction courses delivered by specialists who work for the company which gave me more confidence and a better understanding of my role. I soon realized that the people that I support are individuals who have their own routines and likes or dislikes just like we all do. I was there to support them achieve their goals in a safe way. This often meant helping with everyday tasks like personal care or cooking but also participating in activities that I would perhaps do myself in my spare time like going to the cinema or to the swimming pool. I must admit there was also the challenging element when I had to support people through difficult times when they were distressed, unhappy or just in a bad mood. However, thanks to specialist training and support from my colleagues it did not deter me from the job. On the contrary, I soon got a chance to use my teaching qualification and additionally to my role on the unit I became a management of challenging behaviour instructor. I also got promoted to a more senior role in the team and gained more responsibilities in organising how things were done on the unit. As part of my development I prepared a presentation on the use of verbal de-escalation for which Brookdale rewarded me by putting me on a module in autism at University of Cumbria which I completed in 2010. I continued to work directly with patients until 2013. In the meantime, I moved to a different service and enjoyed supporting people in transitioning into the community and also got another promotion which made me accountable directly to the unit manager.
The biggest turn in my journey at Milton Park happened in 2013. I was asked to carry out an audit of management of challenging behaviour plans and I presented my report to senior managers. My work was recognized and soon an opportunity for a position in quality auditing came up. I did not hesitate for a moment as it was a great chance to put my earlier education in statistics or data analysis and by then six year experience in healthcare together. Nonetheless, this was a huge learning curve for me. Throughout the years I gained a working knowledge of mental health regulations and legislation but I was now in a position where I had to know things like CQC standards almost by heart. In the role of Clinical Quality Auditor I work closely with management and hear what information they require to improve the quality of the service. On the basis of reports that I write we improve policies, change templates, adjust staff training etc. I am really thrilled that my work can influence the standard of care that all of our patients receive and although I don’t support them on daily basis I like to think that by working in the background I ensure they get the best possible experience during their stay at Milton Park.
At the beginning of 2015 I took on board an additional role to quality auditing and became the Safeguarding Lead for Milton Park. I cannot express how proud I am that the company trusted me with such a responsibility. It has been another learning curve for me and Brookdale invested in me by putting me on a master’s module in Safeguarding at University of Surrey. I still continue with auditing although I had to delegate some work to other professionals. However, I have even more influence on patients’ experience and I focus on making sure they feel safe and safeguarded from abuse. My biggest challenge is to ensure this happens in the least restrictive way so that people are still able to enjoy independence and positive risk taking. I achieve that by working closely with my colleagues in the MDT at Milton Park and also external specialist within the Police, Local Authority and the CQC.
This is my journey with Brookdale to date. Started in 2007 as a healthcare assistant with no experience and six generations of iPhones later I am a Clinical Quality Auditor and Safeguarding Lead at Milton Park.