How I moved from primary school teaching to manage a Lifeways supported living service
Lifeways Registered Manager, Gina Evans explains her decision to focus her attention on supporting adults by moving away from her previous career as a primary school teacher.
Gina Evans, Registered Manager joined Lifeways in April 2014 as a sessional support worker. She already worked in a primary school as a teaching assistant, so the flexible hours of a sessional contract, allowed her to have a good work-life balance. Gina worked evenings and weekends, and worked extra in the school holidays when everyone took annual leave.
"I stayed in this role for three years quite happily, and then in May 2017 I was offered a Senior Support Worker role. I decided to take the role and leave the school. I wanted to make a difference for the people we support and that was very difficult while working another job! As of August 2020, I was made permanent, as a Registered Manager".
As Gina has previous experience working with children with additional needs, from ADHD, ASD, GDD, cerebral palsy, she had some understanding of providing the support provided at Lifeways. She was also able to bring her skills of building relationships to the table.
"I continue to pride myself now on establishing good relationships with parents and representatives of the people we support, where the people we support have complex needs and limited communication skills.
But the main thing I have brought is valuing the support of the family and representatives for the people we support, a lot of our service users have very limited capacity and we rely on those good relationships. I worked in a school in a deprived area and often I would face conflict with the families either with each other or with myself or members of my team, this helped to build my confidence and resilience during heated situations.
However, as there is such a difference between the roles, it was important for me to learn the responsibilities from scratch. When supporting adults, you take their lead and everything is person-centered around them – what they like, what they want, and what they want to achieve. This leads to far higher self-esteem and self-worth and you see the true value of your work. My absolute favourite thing about Lifeways is how we do something so simple each day by supporting people in a positive way, but it has such a massive impact on them – and when you sit back and look back to the last 12 / 24 / 36 months where they are and where they were, that is the best part for me.
My first few months were a real eye-opener, but we had an amazing, dedicated staff team and I was lucky enough to work with some experienced staff – everyone worked towards the same goal, the best life possible for the people we support.
Now I have progressed throughout Lifeways to where I am today. I have seen many highlights of my time here, but the best is the opportunities. I have achieved my NVQ 5 thanks to Lifeways, I would never have had the opportunities to progress in the way that I have in any other field".
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