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eilidh heron court deputy manager

Have you ever been promoted at your workplace – before you even started the job?

That’s exactly what happened to Eilidh Dewar, who’s currently the deputy manager at Heron Court, a Lifeways supported living service in Leith, near Edinburgh.

Here’s how Eilidh did it:

After graduating from university in 2019, and after a brief stint in customer services for a bank, Eilidh was undecided on what to do next.

“Professionally, I wasn't really sure where I wanted to go,” says Eilidh, who’s in her twenties.

“So after a while in my banking job, I started looking for support worker jobs. I became interested in working with people with learning disabilities, and came across Lifeways.”

A new path

With a new-found keenness to get started, but no direct experience, Eilidh last year applied for a position as a support worker at Heron Court.

At the time, the supported living service, which is made up of 24 self-contained one-bedroom apartments, hadn’t yet opened.

After her interview, Heron Court’s Registered Manager, Susan Green, decided that Eilidh was a perfect fit to be at management level.

Luckily, Eilidh had previous experience in management at her role in the bank.

“I was told that my interview was really good and that I seemed like I had the right kind of ethic to be management level in the service,” said Eilidh.

“That's when I got the contract to be team leader.”

At Lifeways, team leaders assist and manage support workers - who are generally promoted to the position.

‘Leaps and bounds’

Eilidh was Heron Court’s sole team leader, in a service with a 30-strong team, and currently supports nine people.

The support team’s size means they are able to dedicate lots of time to each individual we support.

“Since we’ve got to know them, some of the people that we support have come on leaps and bounds,” says Eilidh.

“It's so amazing to see changes in people.”

One individual, who is non-verbal, at first displayed behaviours that challenge, recalls Eilidh.

However, as our support teams at Lifeways know from completing our carefully-crafted Positive Behaviour Support training: behaviour is communication.

In response, the support team at Heron Court spent more focused time with the individual, learning their likes, dislikes, and distinct communication style.

“Now, we don't see behaviours that challenge anymore from the individual, because his support team know his wishes almost before he expresses them,” Eilidh says.

Secret to success

After Eilidh started at Heron Court, she stayed in her role as team leader for nine months.

Then, in December last year, she applied for a position to be Heron Court’s deputy manager – and got the job.

What’s the secret to success in Eilidh’s roles?

“I care about other people and I want to put other people's needs first,” she says.

“And I want to help other people who are more vulnerable and need that support and make a difference in their life.”

When it comes to management, Eilidh’s summary of the skills needed are simple:

“You have to want to help the support team and help them progress and help them do well.”

Eilidh adds that every day is different – and some days can be challenging.

But yet, in the end, she says, the job feels worth it.

“You come home knowing that you've made some sort of difference.”

Great to hear your career story, Eilidh!

If you would like to find out more about what a career in supported living is like read our blog on your questions answered about a career in supported living.

About Heron Court:

Heron Court’s self-contained apartments offer independence to each individual, with support whenever needed.

The service is run by Living Ambitions, which delivers a diverse range of bespoke services across the UK.

These services include supported living, residential care, outreach services, respite care and support at home, with the aim of helping people live as independently as possible.

Living Ambitions is part of Lifeways.

About Lifeways:

Lifeways is the UK’s largest team of support professionals. Across England, Scotland and Wales, we provide support for adults in the community. 

Our 11,000 colleagues currently support almost 5,000 individuals who live in our 1,500 supported living and residential services.

Our team provide support for people living with complex needs, including

Find out more about our support on:    

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This story was originally published in May 2022. 

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